Fun and Cozy Winter Activities During COVID-19

With the COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, 2021 promises to be a much brighter year for our collective social lives. And when the vaccines do become available, they’ll be fully covered by your Friday Health Plan, so please stay tuned. 

That said, the pandemic is still a very serious and rising reality in the US. Social distancing is very much in effect and we’re all taking precautions to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. 

As we brave these next few winter months, we’ll need to find new ways to stay active and cozy and, well, sane during these stressful times. While we all can’t go out to brunch or grab cocktails like we used to, that doesn’t mean this winter has to be a total wash. It just means you’ll need to get more creative with your winter activities. 

Below is a list of fun, cold-weather things to do that are COVID-19 friendly. We hope you get the chance to enjoy some of them as we all eagerly look forward to more carefree (read: vaccinated) days in the year ahead.

Enjoy a rustic outdoor dinner (or drinks)

The one thing health experts can agree on is that the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19 drops significantly when you’re outside. If you live in a state where outdoor dining is still totally enjoyable without being decked out in winter clothes (Texas and Nevada), lucky you. Dine outside to your heart and stomach’s delight! 

In states with colder winter climates, like Colorado and New Mexico, bars and restaurants have found new ways to make patio dining doable. Many restaurants have purchased heat lamps for every table. 

Other restaurants have taken a more rustic route, setting up fire pits for groups of diners. We love this option in the mountain states! Bundle up in your winter clothes, bring a warm blanket, and sit by the fire. Enjoy the view of those snow-capped peaks -- your order of wings will arrive shortly.

Many restaurants have also employed more experimental structures to make outdoor dining safer. Yurts, greenhouses, igloos, and tents are popping up all across the country.  Be sure to check with the restaurants ahead of time and see what cleaning measurements are in place and how the tables are spaced. It’s all about making everyone in your group feel comfortable. 

Layer up and go for a hike

The health benefits of hiking are wide-ranging and compelling -- and you can read all about them here: Why Hiking is So Freaking Good for You

While hiking may seem like more of a summer or fall activity, it’s great during the winter, too --  especially if the sun’s out and you’re about to lose your mind sitting in that same spot on the couch for the thousandth hour. There’s something inherently soothing and energizing about getting outside and experiencing mother nature. You’ll also be surprised by how quickly you warm up—we promise ;)

Be sure to get the right gear before you hit the trails this winter. A set of, crampons, microspikes, or snowshoes are all good, grippy accessories for your hiking shoes, depending on what kind of mountains you plan on submitting. Trekking poles might be necessary, too. 

Find a trail near you

Join a virtual book or Netflix club

It’s the perfect time of year to get comfy in your favorite pair of socks and devour a great book. Reading with a book club is another awesome way to keep in touch with friends and family you may not see regularly.

Not much of a reader these days? Start a Netflix club with your friends and plan to discuss an episode each week. At the end of the day, it’s about finding ways to stay entertained and connected. Odds are you’ll discuss the show for twenty minutes and catch up on the stuff that really matters for an hour. Sounds like time well-spent to us ;)

Invest in a wallet-friendly fire pit

There’s nothing like sitting outside by your fire pit with a mug of coffee or hot cider with the people you love the most. Listen to the firewood crackle and pop as the sun goes down. Enjoy the easy comfort of the warm fire and your family. Refill your drink and throw another log in the fire -- you’ve got nowhere to go. 

Here are some affordable outdoor fire pit options on Amazon. 

Learn a new skill or (finally) finish that passion project!

Odds are you’ll be hunkered down for the next few months. Seeing friends is challenging, and while you deeply and truly love your significant other, there are only so many topics you can discuss throughout the day and night. 

Now is the time to put in the work, invest in your future self, and broaden your skill set. Learn a new language on Duolingo. Sign up for a MasterClass. Enroll in an online course and bolster your resume.

Adopt a pet

Why? For one thing, pets bring boatloads of health benefits. From making us happier to pushing us to get outside more often, becoming a pet parent is a great investment in our mental and physical health. This is especially true during the pandemic, when we’re bored and, frankly, anxious about the future. In fact, studies show that pets can be a main source of support in managing long-term mental health problems. 

Providers of love, affection, and comfort, pets are loyal and their love is absolutely unconditional (as long as you give them sufficient treats and ample belly rubs). For these reasons, pets have been used to treat long-term mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Many shelters are being overwhelmed by the pandemic, and there’s probably never been a greater need for folks to adopt. 

You can read about five health benefits of owning a pet here!

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