6 Tactics to Stay Happy in a COVID Winter

Well, friends, it looks like it’s going to be a long winter. Case counts in my county are up 120% in the last two weeks and we’re back to purple status. As we prepare to hunker down for the next few months, I have realized it will take all the tools in the toolbox to stay sane and maintain some peace of mind this winter. With a demanding job and a demanding (awesome!) 3 year old, it takes more presence and proactive measures to stay balanced than it ever has. I know my colleagues and others around the country are in the same stressful boat.

My company spends a lot of time talking to smart people in the health and fitness industry, so I’ve gleaned some great tips. Let’s proactively try as many tactics as we can and share what works (over email or Zoom, of course)!

Here are 6 items and practices I’ll be integrating into my routine to stave off the blues in addition to daily exercise and meditation.

  1. Full-spectrum light via a Light Box

Full-spectrum light covers the full electromagnetic spectrum and mimics daylight without harmful UV rays. I’ve used them for years with indoor plants, but never thought to leverage them for myself. I spend enough time sitting at the desk, that I figure it’s a worthwhile investment for 20-30 minutes a day.

    2. A Weighted Blanket for better rest

This one I can personally attest to! I bought my husband one for his birthday and have been “borrowing” it whenever I can. The difference in relaxation is real and intense. The blankets use deep touch pressure to increase melatonin and serotonin levels and reduce cortisol. Yes, please.

    3. Make a Happy Day playlist 

I’ve got a few of these and they always deliver a mood boost. Run through your favorite albums and artists and pop all the tracks that make you smile in one place. Continue to add to it over time to keep it fresh. I also recommend creating a few different versions for different times of day or days of week. I have a sunshine island reggae soundtrack for weekends and mellow happy hip hop instrumentals for weekday afternoons, e.g. 

    4. Daily mantras

A very simple way to keep your head on straight when things get stressful. Each morning I pick an affirmation and come back to it as needed throughout the day. A lot of the phrases you find online can have a bit of a cheesy self-help feel, so I create a list of the ones that resonate with me and come back to it each morning. Here are a few that I like:

    •  I experience a sense of peace and love with every breath I take.
    • Every decision I make is a choice between a grievance and a miracle. I relinquish all regrets, grievances, and resentments and choose the miracle.
    • All I need comes to me when I need it. 

     5. Get Outside

So much easier to do in the summer - amirite?!

But, with the right gear (especially here in Northern California), you can be outside year round. My latest items to make it through the rainy season:

     6. Tone therapy 

I’ve been using the N.O.W. tone therapy system for a few months now. Each session is only 3 minutes and the impact is remarkable. Often it will take me 10 minutes or more to quiet my mind during meditation, but with the N.O.W. speakers, I can “drop in” in just a couple of minutes. It’s a very simple device - two small speakers that play unique tones in succession. The company describes them as “unique, created in-the-moment sequences of peaceful tones based on the ancient Pythagorean tuning system used for sound healing.”

I’m hoping some combination of the above plus lots of exercise will help keep me on the right track for the next few months.