Just as we winterize our cars and our homes this time of year, it’s important to think about applying the same idea to ourselves.
This year it's even more important.
With temperatures starting to drop, the sun setting earlier in the day, and, most importantly, covid-19 likely to drag on for several more months, our pandemic fatigue will likely increase.
Here are five tips to help you through this winter.
1. Look Into Buying a Light Therapy Lamp
Since we take in less natural light in the winter compared to sunnier seasons, we can experience a drop in serotonin, the “happy chemical” that occurs naturally in our bodies.
Light therapy lamps (sometimes called light boxes) can provide the feel-good natural lighting we’re missing.
Light therapy lamps are particularly helpful for those who have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depressive disorder that occurs during the same season each year. It’s estimated that about 10 million Americans have SAD.
The Philips GoLite Blue model is a good one, and the Verilux brand gets a lot of excellent reviews. Lamps start at about $30 and go up to about $250.
It’s suggested that you sit in front of a lamp for about 15 minutes in the morning each day to get maximum benefit.
2. Make Sure to Get Regular Exercise
This will be a little harder to do this year since many gyms are still closed due to the coronavirus, or people are understandably wary to go inside a gym. And with the weather getting colder, fewer people are willing to exercise outside.
So, look into buying a stationary bike, treadmill or elliptical machine for your home or consider using exercise videos.
You don’t have to spend $2,000 for a Peloton; a good stationary bike can be had for $400-$600.
Aim to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times per week. Tip: To increase the likelihood of getting your workouts done, schedule them for the same day/time each week.
3. Plan Some Day Trips
Now, more than ever it’s critical we have things to look forward to.
While you likely won’t be flying to Florida or the Caribbean this winter, you can still get away and benefit from a change of scenery.
A few ideas: Plan a day trip to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore; check out the historic district in Annapolis; tour the Amish farms and produce stands in Lancaster, Pa. Find an outdoor ice rink. (Of course, always wear a mask and stand at least six feet away from others.)
4. Get Warm Clothes
There's an old saying about cold weather: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes."
Since it's significantly safer due to covid-19 to socialize outside versus inside, it's particularly important this winter to have warm clothes.
Invest in all of the usual things, like a good coat, scarf, gloves and hat. But also consider wool socks, heated gloves, waterproof boots and long underwear.
And, if you have the outdoor space for it, invest in a fire pit or heat lamp.
5. Change Your Mindset
It's important to think a little differently about winter this year.
Rather than thinking of the cold as a barrier, try thinking of it as an opportunity socialize with friends or a chance to break the monotony of being inside.
With the right clothes, going for a walk with a friend in the cold or going sledding is doable and maybe even enjoyable.
Use common sense, as you don't want to take unnecessary risks with ice and heavy snow.