I know it's been a bit quieter around these parts recently, though not without reason. The one year anniversary of my mom's passing is approaching and I'm experiencing grief in a whole new way. I can't and won't really go into it here, but because I've always tried to keep this space as candid as possible, posting has been a bit of challenge.

I am, however, always up for talking about how to improve your mood. I know I can't be the only one who's experiencing the blues right now, and I'm here to tell you that you're not alone. Whether you're dealing with grief as well or just cranky as hell from this relentless winter, let's talk about five quick ways to turn that frown upside down.

Look on the bright side. Literally. The easiest way to cheer up is to count your blessings and think about the good things in your life. But I'm all for seeking visual cues on the sunny side of the street. Find something that inspires you, something that makes you smile. For some people this means scrolling through Pinterest or wandering through a bookstore. I like to snap photos like this one above. I'm sure I've walked down this particular block a hundred times, but I never noticed these colored doors until recently. Sometimes you just need to open your eyes a bit wider to see what's right in front of you.

Get lost in a book. I have to confess that I'm in the middle of probably 10 different books right now. Reading has been a really good escape for me recently. For the first time in a long time, I'm actually finishing my magazine subscriptions before the month is up. (I usually have a stack of unread glossies from prior months). After seeing Fifty Shades of Grey, I read all three books. (Mostly because the film ends on a hideous cliffhanger, and I had to know what happens next. And also, I loved them. I admit it. Zero shame.) Currently I'm reading a bunch of different weight loss books, and I'm thinking of starting The Girl on the Train. Psychological thrillers are really not my thing (never read Gone Girl though I liked the movie) but this one sounds wildly intriguing.

Turn on the tube. Might I suggest Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix? I think we watched over half the season this weekend. It's kind of like 30 Rock minus Alec Baldwin. SO clever and spot on with that signature Tina Fey wit. I also could watch endless reruns of Golden Girls, Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The League, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia... There's nothing like guaranteed laughter - even if you've seen the episode at least ten times.

Sweat it out. I got into barre workouts right after I lost my mom because I appreciated the way it took my mind off of things. The moves are so specific that they require total concentration, and so I felt like I was able to check my grief at the door for an hour while I focused solely on my body and my being. Sometimes however, it's nice to go to a workout that you know from the inside out that feels like second nature and doesn't require much thought. For me this is cycling, and sometimes it gives me too much time to think, but on the other hand the aggression and the sweat and losing myself in the music is so therapeutic. 

Treat yourself! Shallow? Sure. But who cares? If treating yourself to a cupcake, a manicure or a new pair of workout pants is going to boost your mood, I'm all for it. Personally, I'm on the lookout for a good massage that won't completely break the bank. Any recommendations from my fellow Manhattanites?

What cheers you up?