What to buy to fight seasonal depression during a coronavirus second wave, from a mental health professional

Here are some expert suggestions on what to buy this winter that will keep you happy and healthy.


Coronavirus cases are rising again, and a second wave is likely to sweep across the United States over the winter, health experts say. Many Americans are more prepared and have adopted safety precautions that weren't in place during March and April. However, as temperatures drop, many of the activities that kept people energized — outdoor dining, picnics in the park — might not be possible.

This will making finding peace a little harder this winter than it was during the summer, says Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching in Denver, Colorado.

"In order to cope and feel as well as possible, it will be very important to find new things that we can count on while practicing social distancing," she says.

Here are some expert suggestions on what to invest in this winter that will keep you happy and healthy.

Things to keep you active

During the first wave of Covid-19 cases, a slew of products, from baking soda to hand sanitizer, were hard to find. This season, though, "we are in much better shape," says Kristin McGrath, shopping expert at Offers.com. For the most part, supply chains are moving smoothly and shoppers can get the items they need.

"One thing that remains difficult to find is home gym equipment," she says. "Peloton, for example, is still operating under a shipping time of at least four weeks."

One thing that remains difficult to find is home gym equipment.
Kristin McGrath
shopping expert at Offers.com

Exercise doesn't just help you stay physically healthy. It can boost your mood and limit anxiety, studies have shown, which could be helpful while you're stuck at home during a pandemic winter.

So, McGrath says, if you find anything you think would be a good addition to your at-home workout routine, buy it now. While free weights are still difficult to find, other home gym equipment is in stock right now. At Walmart, a half-inch-thick yoga mat is $20 and at Amazon you can get a fitness resistance band for $13.45.

You can also sign up for virtual classes, Bobby suggests: "Go ahead and subscribe to the online exercise platform." Paying for classes, as opposed to finding free workouts online, might encourage you to stick to them.

Things to make alone time more fulfilling

"There has never been a better time to journal," Bobby says. "This is a solitary time, and it can feel lonely and deprived. However, there's an enormous opportunity to be found by shifting into a mindset of gratitude for the time and space to be reflective and work on yourself."

You might also consider buying items that make your space more enjoyable, so that you'll be less tempted to leave home as temperatures drop. "Purchases that help your home environment feel soothing and nourishing are a great bet," she says.

If you want to buy writing supplies, take advantage of some Black Friday deals at stores like Office Depot. Or if you'd rather buy some nice candles, Bath & Body Works is also having a Black Friday sale.

In order to cope and feel as well as possible, it will be very important to find new things that we can count on while practicing social distancing.
Lisa Marie Bobby
clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching

Things to help you sleep

Anxiety has risen among Americans during the pandemic, according to mental health experts. There are some cost-free actions you can take to get a good night's sleep, such as limiting screen time and alcohol after dark. But if your anxiety is still keeping awake, it might be wise to purchase some items that can help.

"Best Buy is running a Prep for the Holidays sale through October 28," McGrath says. "Among the deals is $25 off the Phillips SmartSleep Sleep and Wake Up Light Therapy Lamp."

Other low-cost products that could improve your sleep are melatonin, magnesium, and vitamin D supplements, or a white noise machine. You could also buy lavender sachets to put in your pillowcase; the smell of lavender is thought by many to be a sleep aid. Or you could get an essential oil diffuser to use with relaxing oils like mint or sandalwood.

Whatever you decide to buy, make sure it is "related to experiences, to connection, or to meaning," Bobby says. "If shopping is your fix, make it purposeful."

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