For many of us, 2016 was a doozy, but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2017! Follow our Hit Refresh series through January for new ideas, hacks and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.

When the holiday decorations have been put away, the Champagne has all been drunk and the adrenaline of all those promising New Year’s resolutions has worn off, the beginning of a new year can feel pretty anti-climactic. After weeks of preparing and partying for the December celebrations, it sometimes feels like an emotional hangover to go back to a more typical routine — especially when so many of us are buried in snow or freezing our butts off in January and February.

Getting creative is a great way to help pull you out of the post-holiday slump and to kick-start your best year yet. Creativity expert Keith Sawyer — who has written two books on the subject — confirms that, while it can be a challenging time of year to feel your most inspired, the early part of the year may still offer creative opportunities.

Woman writing in journal against tree in woods

As Keith reminds us, we’re all in the same boat when it comes to returning to the daily grind. “Because everyone we know is [celebrating] at the same time, we return to the office with a collective slump,” he says. “But this doesn’t have to block creativity, because research shows that the most exceptional creators go through alternating periods of hard work followed by down time. You probably won’t have that great idea during the slump, but you can take action to fill your brain with raw material to lead to creativity later on.”

Keith has a few suggestions to help you get creative, even if it feels impossible in the discouraging days of winter. His overarching piece of advice is to stay active in body and mind. “I like to say ‘be a dilettante,'” Keith says. “Learn just a tiny bit about something you’ve never done before, something that doesn’t take a lot of time that you can get started on in one or two months.”

Keep reading for more specific ideas… and use them to go out and get creative!

1. Learn to cook a new kind of food. Skip the take-out menus, and try your hand at whipping up your favorite cuisine in your own kitchen.

2. Pick up a simple instrument. Maybe you’re not a music natural, but learning to play a few notes on something basic like a harmonica or recorder is a great way to keep your brain on its toes.

Woman with headphones and notebook at laptop

3. Play around with a new game, puzzle or brain teaser. Dust off your favorite board game or ask your parents to track down that old Rubik’s cube. If you prefer putting pen to paper, a sudoku puzzle or crossword can also help keep your creative juices flowing.

4. Check out a new social event. The new year is a great time for making friends, and why not put yourself out there to get acquainted with social groups who may be a little different than yours? Find a gallery opening, a bookstore reading or a concert featuring artists you wouldn’t typically listen to. Look for opportunities to learn about new topics.

5. Get talking. Even if the post-holiday slump has stalled you from actively doing creative things, you can still talk about them! “Collaboration and conversation is a great way to prime the pump for greater creativity,” Keith says.

How are you planning to be creative in 2017? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)