As Game of Thrones fans have heard many times, Winter Is Coming.
In October, with days getting shorter and temperatures getting cooler, some people who suffer annually from Seasonal Affective Disorder are already starting to feel their symptoms kick in. A few parts of the U.S. have already gotten heavy snow, and it’s not even Halloween yet. Living with winter’s challenges can be daunting at the best of times, but the 2020-21 edition will be even tougher for a multitude of reasons that we know all too well.
So, what do we do?
We start preparing by prioritizing our mental and physical health right now so that when winter arrives, we’re well equipped for it. At the end of this post, I’ve linked to a few articles I’ve read recently that may be helpful for that purpose.*
Apart from eating a healthy diet and staying well hydrated, doing as much exercise as you can manage, getting enough sleep, taking adequate breaks during the day, finding creative outlets to alleviate stress, and seeking professional help if needed (all of which remain as crucial as ever), one piece of advice that appears across many of these articles is identifying for yourself in advance a few simple, small things to look forward to. For example:
- You could plan a cozy holiday celebration with the people who share your home or are part of your quarantine pod.
- Maybe there’s a new soup or hot chocolate recipe you’ve been wanting to try.
- You might line up some books to start reading, craft/home improvement projects to start doing, and/or TV shows/movies to start watching a couple of months from now.
- There could be volunteer opportunities you’ve been meaning to explore, many of which have moved online to increase both safety and participation, and can therefore be pursued from the comfort of home.
- Outdoor winter activities like sledding, skiing, and ice skating naturally lend themselves to social distancing and face coverings in uncrowded settings.
- If you’re lucky, you might even have the opportunity to sit in front of a fireplace.
For me, one of the things I look forward to is sending people attractively decorated notes and cards. The USPS is catering to that interest with its newly introduced stamp lines, many of which can be seen in the image above compiling some of my recent purchases: “Holiday Delights” (top right), “Poinsetta,” (top left), “Winter Scenes” (middle row), “Hanukkah,” and “Kwanzaa.” And since I’ll also be sending out plenty of mail long before the holidays, I also ordered a book of “Save Vanishing Species” stamps featuring an Amur tiger (left middle), which comes with a decorative banner (bottom). These stamps do triple duty by simultaneously adding beauty, raising awareness of a serious problem, and contributing to funds distributed to conservation organizations by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service International Affairs department. I also ordered a book of “Working Dogs” stamps featuring an Art Deco-style micro-portrait of one of my favorite dog breeds, the German Shepherd (center). As discussed in my August 16th post, the USPS really needs our support right now, which is another good reason to buy some of these wonderful stamps sooner rather than later.
What can you look forward to in the next few months? Can you share any part of your list and elaborate on it in a note to a family member or friend who might enjoy some of those same things? Which stamps will you use for your winter correspondence?
* Articles to help you prepare for the season ahead:
- Vox, “How to make this winter not totally suck, according to psychologists” (October 14, 2020)
- The Washington Post, “A pandemic pod could help you get through winter, experts say. Here’s how to form one.” (October 14, 2020)
- Bloomberg CityLab, “How to Make the Most of Covid Winter” (September 11, 2020)
- Vice, “If You’re Already Dreading Winter, Here Are Some Small Ways to Prepare Now” (September 9, 2020)