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How to combat the winter blahs during Covid-19

I’ll be honest: This year, I’m worried about the winter blahs.

As a New Yorker looking toward many months of cold weather, I’m starting to feel prickles of panic. Usually, I’d be looking forward to some sort of warm weather vacation with the family, but that’s probably not happening this winter. Just having something to look forward to—a break from the gray skies and cold temps—gives me a boost, and the confidence that I can make it through another chilly winter.

This year, it’s different. So what’s a person to do when a beach vacation may feel out of reach? It’s time to get creative. Your mental health is depending on it!

Book a nearby, cozy weekend away.

How to combat the winter blahs during Covid-19

From AirBnBs, to cozy lodges and hotels, there are plenty of lovely places you can get to on less than a tank of gas. Look for places with a hot tub, sauna, fireplace, anything that really dials up that hygge vibe (that’s the Danish word for cozy). Is it close to fun outdoor activities, like snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or trails? Sign me up!

I have some tips for staying at hotels during covid here, but a few things to keep in mind are calling the hotel directly (not the 1-800 number, but the actual hotel) to see what they’re doing to ensure safety for guests and staff. Also ask what common areas are like, and the onsite and nearby food situation. Doesn’t having food delivered outside your hotel room sound heavenly? I sure think so! 

Do an extended stay somewhere.

How to combat the winter blahs during Covid-19

Are you already working remotely? Could you work remotely from somewhere else that has more sunshine and less snowstorms? I know many vacation rentals homes (like you would find on AirBnB or Vrbo) offer major discounts for those who book month-long stays. This may be the year to pile everyone into the car and set up shop at a different latitude. That sure sounds magical to me!

If you are thinking of flying, check out the first-hand travel accounts from a few of the most traveled people I know. I found their insight so helpful when considering if I was ready to board a plane in the near future.

Take a Staycation.

How to combat the winter blahs during Covid-19

Typically, I am leery of staycations. How can you really “vacation” at home when there’s a pile of laundry, a junk drawer that needs decluttering, and a pantry that you now feel compelled to organize by color (thanks, The Home Edit!)? This year is so different. So many of us aren’t traveling at all, and thus, a staycation is really better than nothing. I have a whole post on how to make a staycation feel special, but here are some of the biggest takeaways:

Spend some time before your actual staycation cleaning the house. Put new sheets on the bed, clean towels in the bathroom, stock the fridge and try to get through all that laundry! If the house is put away, it’s so much easier to relax.

Set the tone. There’s nothing like fresh flowers in unexpected places to transform your home into a pseudo hotel. Put some in your kitchen, bedroom, hey, even the bathroom! And if you find yourself eyeing a fancy candle from Voluspa or Diptyque, now is the time to splurge.

Agree on the ground rules. It’ll never feel like a vacation if you’re tethered to your regular life. Set some ground rules with your fellow staycationers—like only checking email once in the morning and once at night, no using social media. You could even pretend it’s 1983 and lock everyone’s phones away for the weekend.

Pick a theme. I know a couple who does an annual reading weekend, where all they do is read books for three days straight. They even cook all their meals ahead of time so they can just heat them up! You could watch all the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings movies. Never watched Game of Thrones? I’ll bet you could put a big dent in that one over a long weekend (though make an appointment with your therapist for the following week—there may be a lot to unpack after so much carnage!). Cook your favorite meals from trips you’ve taken in the past. if you can’t go to Italy, maybe just eat and drink like you’re there! Board games, puzzles, home spa weekend…. The possibilities are endless.

How are you planning to break up the winter blahs this year? Share in the comments!

Travel in 2020 is different. What’s a person to do when a beach vacation feels out of reach? Here's a few ways to get creative.

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. We, a friend and her mom usually spend New Years Eve at the friends house and make appetizers, play games, have one of the New York New Years Eve Specials on and drink ridiculously expensive Champagne. This year since none of us were able to go on a vacation(yes, our Italy trip was canceled because of covid) we decided to book a hotel room in Half Moon Bay Calif for 2 nights. New Years Eve out, still drink the ridiculously expensive Champagne, play games and watch the ball drop with room service! Staying New Years Day in pj’s, drink more champagne and watch movies. We booked an ocean view room, we are within walking distance to a few really good restaurants! Just three friends enjoying the Holidays together! How much better can that get?

    1. Sara I love Half Moon Bay. We stayed in a room with our own patio with fire pit. It was wonderful. Especially the bagpiper @ sunset.

      Bring your own s’more makings the hotels is outrageously expensive. Spend it on champagne!!!

      Enjoy.

  2. Thanks Samantha! I’ve been dreading the colder winter and now dark when I leave for work in morning and soon will be dark outside on my way home after work. It makes me feel anxious but knowing you feel the same way I don’t feel alone. This winter will be a mental health challenge for many including myself.

    Prayers and positivity to you and family.
    Paula

  3. Great ideas, Samantha! I love your newsletters. I am missing travel so much, but we are learning to think of vacation in terms of exploring nearby destinations instead of flying to a faraway island. (With 5-yr-old twins, car trips are easier than flights anyway, lol!).
    I absolutely love your FB Lives too…in this time of isolation, they are truly the highlight of my week!
    Can’t wait to hear how your first post-pandemic filming went! 🙂

  4. Hi Samantha,

    Winter is hard to begin with so this is a good topic. I have a light box to give me a boost. Also massages, walking if not too cold or dancing inside, reading a good book or magazine, watching Samantha Brown when she’s live : ) … thanks for that! I also sign up for virtual cooking classes and yaymaker crafts with my daughter. My company had a virtual conference and treated us to 1 hour in Florence with a guide who is from the city. It was fabulous. Also, every Saturday my husband and I get in the car and go food shopping wherever we have not been within 2-3 hours away. We figure we have to go food shopping so we might as well make a day of it. There have been very few Saturdays where this has not happened. We wind up in Delaware, Jersey, NY – upstate and boroughs (live in Brooklyn), Long Island, PA (sometimes Lancaster if we are ambitious). If the area is a dud so what every area has a supermarket. We mask up and go for it. We try to go to those super store markets and walk up and down every aisle. We hit anywhere from 5000-10,000 steps.

  5. Okay, good article. I think your tips will definitely help you cope with the winter depression, which may soon reach us. I especially liked the item about Staycation. Although I do not agree with fresh flowers, on the contrary, it irritates me more, the futile killing of flora. But cleaning the house is a good solution. It once helped me. When I had problems and stress, I didn’t want anything. Then only CBD, a psychiatrist and a way to cleanse life as much as possible helped me.

  6. O live in AZ and I’m currently working from home until June. My family and I were planning to meet in Victorville CA for Christmas, but with the way things are going, it doesn’t look like that will happen. Most likely will do Google Duo to see my family. Thanks for the tips Samantha.

  7. I live in AZ and I’m currently working from home until June. My family and I were planning to meet in Victorville CA for Christmas, but with the way things are going, it doesn’t look like that will happen. Most likely will do Google Duo to see my family. Thanks for the tips Samantha.

  8. As a resident of NH; I see you call yourself a New Yorker; but…we’re glad you grew up here.

    Have to share this…recently I saw a NH License Plate that read NYAWKA

    Get it? A New Yorker with a NH accent.

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