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If You’re Already Dreading Winter, Here Are Some Small Ways to Prepare Now

The pandemic means we're probably going to be spending even more time indoors, so it's a good time to get your mind, body, and home ready to hunker down.

This pandemic is sure to go on throughout the winter - so we will easily have another 6 months, at least, of closures - lockdown/quarantine measures and new stricter laws concerning wearing of masks etc. and heavier fines for not doing so.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, there have been warnings that the upcoming fall and winter could be far worse than spring and summer were. CDC director Robert Redfield said it in April and again in July; several public health experts echoed this in The Atlantic in August; and we’ve all seen the 1918 pandemic graphs. In a few months, flu season will have begun, outdoor gatherings will be fairly unrealistic or just flatly impossible in much of the U.S., and the direct and collateral damage of mass unemployment will have deepened. While widespread rapid testing or the election of a new president could set us on a new, better, course, it’s still a good idea to plan for the worst while hoping for the best.

While thinking about all of this is fairly bleak, one thing gives me hope:

This time around will be different—both because we won’t be blindsided by it, and because we know so much more about the coronavirus now. We have an opportunity to say to ourselves, “What, in four months, would I absolutely regret not doing when I had the chance?” and “What small-ish things do I wish I had done in January 2020, that I can do some version of now?”

And small-ish really is key here. Obviously, it would have been great to, say, not book a non-refundable April trip to Europe, or to know in December that you were going to suddenly get laid off in March, but that doesn’t exactly help you here. Instead, think more specifically about your day-to-day comfort, habits, and health. What were/are the biggest pain points? What might be exacerbated by cold weather, being indoors, or an unforeseen catastrophe (like a job loss or illness)? And what, if anything, could you do (or plan to do) now to feel a little bit less bad come January?

If you’re filled with dread about the coming winter and want to do something about it, here are some questions to consider. Two tips, before you start, though:

  1. As you think through this, you may want to make a mega list of all of the things that could possibly be helpful… but then do a second pass and choose the 3–5 things that stand out to you as the highest priorities. You can always revisit the list in a month or so and choose a few more to work on. But try to resist the urge to do everything all at once; it’s too easy to get overwhelmed and give up that way.

  2. If your cash flow and resources are limited at the moment, it might still be worthwhile to think about this stuff now—because then you can keep an eye out for good sales, try to save a little money here and there, hit up thrift stores or Facebook resale pages, celebrate when you stumble across the exact thing you need in a neighbor’s trash pile, etc.

What can you do in the next few weeks to make sure your physical and mental health are as good as they can possibly be?

This might look like...

  • Getting a flu shot

  • Taking care of That One Nagging Issue—bad allergies, birth control, contact lenses, the tooth that’s been feeling not quite right, etc.

  • Finding a therapist and starting sessions, getting back into therapy if you’ve let things slide, and/or joining a support group

  • Getting a thermometer, some non-expired cold and cough medicine, cough drops, ibuprofen, tissues, etc.

  • Finding one style of face mask that really works for you—comfortable, a good fit, protective, easy to wash/sterilize, etc.

  • Setting a boundary with a friend, coworker, or family member

  • Learning to prepare one low-fuss meal that leaves you feeling nourished

  • Starting an extremely low-pressure workout routine or coming up with a plan to move your body somehow regularly. (I have taken my own advice in this regard and, based on a Swole Woman reco, started doing an at-home 20 minute bodyweight workout a couple of times a week. Catch me flipping full suitcases in November!!!)

If those points don’t resonate with you, here are some other questions that might spark ideas for ways to be good to yourself or others...

Is there something you can do in the next couple of weeks that will solve one (1) recurring problem in your life?

If your time, money, and energy are super limited and you can’t do much between now and December, look for one seemingly small but wildly irritating source of frustration in your life, the thing in your home or your room that pisses you off every few days, if not more—e.g, a too-small trash can, the absence of blinds or curtains, or socks that are always slipping down.

Is there anything that would help you deal with cold and wet weather, practically speaking?

Even though a lot of people are mourning the end of summer and its attendant outdoor hangouts, I suspect that masked hangs are going to continue in parks, even as the weather gets worse. Because, as the Norwegian phrase goes, “There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing." While there is absolutely such a thing as bad weather (wind!! horrible!!!), this phrase still makes its point. So: do you need an actual winter jacket, actually good gloves, waterproof boots, or those pocket hand warmers? If you are lucky enough to have a patio or backyard, would an outdoor space heater or patio string lights make a demonstrable difference in your life? Take note and start researching your options.


John Bellamy Adds:

Relax in a wonderful Home From Home setting and enjoy the rainy days and weekends of winter - tucked up nice and warm, here at Hamilton Hall, where we shall endeavour to keep each other fed and watered and alive and well.

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