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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Foote

Fighting the Winter Blues *During Covid

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Years ago I wrote a blog about my approach to maintaining positive mental health during the dark winter days and nights in Alaska. I have shared the same tips every winter since my approach had never changed. It was pretty simple: Move, get outside, use a full spectrum light, take vitamin D supplements, eat your veggies, and maintain connections with your community.

Enter the global pandemic. How do I engage with my community now?

To me, the charm of Fairbanks IS the community. I love living in a place where we are all separated by one person. Where my favorite clothing store is managed by the daughter of an old co-worker, where my favorite coffee stand is owned by my insurance agent's girlfriend. The connections in Fairbanks bind us all together closely and create a sense of community because we really are 'all in this together' especially when it hits -30 and we are down to a few hours of sunlight.

But again... What do I do now? Honestly, I have not figured this out entirely for myself, but here is how I am planning on spending time with others while doing my best to keep my family and community safe this winter.

Spending Time Outside with Friends: From the list I gave you above about healthy winter habits--the most difficult for me to practice is getting outside. For someone who lives half her life in winter, I have never been very fond of the cold. I'm an Alaskan poser. So, here it is, now is my chance! This winter is my time to begin embracing the cold and get my butt outside--WITH FRIENDS. I plan on taking walks during the heat of the day (ha) and am once again threatening to re-learn how to cross country ski (it will not be pretty).

Bonfires: When fall hit Fairbanks my husband and I took extra time to create an outdoor space for bonfires: We set up chairs, hung outdoor lights, put out stacks of blankets, and started inviting over a small number of friends to enjoy the fire with us. It's weird greeting each other with a wave and not a hug, but fun to reconnect with people.

Technology: While we are all probably suffering to some degree from a level of "Zoom fatigue," there are some fun alternatives where we can stay safe while sharing our lives. Some ways I've been considering using technology is creating a book club where we meet virtually, having trivia nights online using a site like MyQuiz, or paying for a site where you can play board games with friends, such as Tabletopia.

The Mail: I have a friend who has always been great about sending postcards. The only thing I get in the mail is bills, so it has always felt like such a treat! This winter I plan on making some very advanced finger paintings with my toddler and sending them to family and friends. The other way I have been utilizing mail is to send little gifts to the ones I love, especially if I think they may be struggling. It's also an opportunity to support your community if you can order locally! I've sent coffee, makeup, hair products, chocolate, clothes, and herbal extracts!

Ultimately, I think I will have to just accept that this winter will feel different. I am working to shift my perspective and find more of the magic in the season. So to my community, stay well! And if you see me on the trails tangled in my own skis, please give me a hand-- We are all in this together.

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