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Beat the Winter Blues with New Hobbies and Friends

Try these 3 fun things to do in the winter to make friends and beat the winter blues.
Whether you are still learning a new city or you know all of the best spots to visit in your neighborhood, you still may have trouble finding fun in the midst of a dreary, cold winter.

Maybe evening jogging turns into staring wistfully out your window with a view of the parking lot, or walking to your friend’s after work turns to gloomily FaceTiming with exchanges like, “You come here.” “No, I walked there last time in the rain. You come here.”

Before you know it, you both end up staying in your apartments, binge-watching Friends and frowning with a half-empty bag of Tostito chips for the third night in a row. (Okay, maybe that last part is just me.)

So, how do you get off the couch and beat the winter blues — even when it seems like everyone you know is staying in?

1. Meetup.com

Meetup is the best place to start if you are searching for a new hobby or group of friends.

A search engine where groups of people get together for virtually any hobby that you can think of, Meetup has options for both big city dwellers and small town peeps.

If you don’t see what you like, you can create your own Meetups and recruit those with similar interests. Whether you’re a busy bee or are as free as your retired grandfather in Florida, Meetup likely has several options that will fit your availability. You can sign up for notifications related to certain interests, so that even if you don’t find a group you like right away, you’ll receive a weekly email with updates regarding new groups.

2. Friends of friends: Expand your network

This may sound obvious, but sometimes the closest friends are made through already existing friendships.

If you’re close with a colleague but are searching for a greater network of friends, ask if you can tag along for a drink or movie. If group plans are already made, this takes the pressure off of you to initiate winter hangouts with people you don’t know well. You could feel like the odd one out the first time, but that will fade if you hit it off with one or two people. Eventually you might make plans with them on your own.

We often rely on friends to set us up with dates or professional connections; why should it be different when it comes to other friendships?

3. Groupon

Even if you’ve only heard about Groupon when your quirky aunt emailed you suggestions for cheap hair salons (“It really is getting long, honey”), Groupon truly is a budget-friendly resource that brings people with similar interests together.

The main purpose is offering classes or discounts in groups of 2 or 3, which is especially useful if you’re trying out a new form of exercise but don’t want to pay full price for a class-pack or gym membership.

Positive side effects include meeting others who are in a similar position as you. Maybe you end up joining a gym with a friend you meet in a short-term Groupon class, or maybe you grab lunch with someone whom you noticed was also making fun of the instructor.

Cold Tip:

In your attempt to do things to make new friends, to avoid being as flaky as the weather, try setting an incessant amount of calendar reminders for yourself. You may find that it becomes more irritating to look at your phone than it does to step out into the cold sunless grey after a long day of work.

Even if you end up not enjoying the Meetup group or fitness class, you can still meet a new friend — maybe someone who doesn’t mind stepping out into the dreariness, finishing off the Tostitos bag for you, and listening to you complain, once again, about Rachel and Ross.

*Note: If you give up on making friends and simply want to know how to survive the end of winter, the following tactics may be for you: trying new pecan pie recipes, calling your mom and actually being honest with her, petting kittens at a local animal shelter, visiting your library and checking out so many books that you have to read them all or you feel like a bad person, and — finally — doing pushups on your living room floor while your dog watches you, begging for treats and judging your form.

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