Girl in Face Mask in the Winter

How To Start Planning For The Long, Cold, Covid-19 Winter Now 

While the Covid-19 pandemic has truly turned all of our lives upside-down, the one slight perk has been the fact that the weather has been so nice for the past eight months, allowing us to still see our loved ones and do certain activities in outdoor socially distanced settings. Now that it’s officially fall many of us are remembering that in a month the clocks go back and the cold months of winter will begin. 

Instead of sitting around and dreading the inevitable until it gets here, start planning out things that you and your quarantine families can do together when the weather gets colder. Seasonal depression, or seasonal effective disorder, can add a whole other layer of stress to our already busy and frantic lives in the middle of an apocalyptic year, but it doesn’t have to be scary.

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Start by asking yourself what you personally need to get through the next few months as happily and healthily as possible. Do you need to make some plans ahead of time? Will you need to gather supplies of some sort for certain snow day activities? Think of some general things that will make the upcoming winter more bearable and work from there. 

For example, if I knew that I would need to be able to see my friends every other week or so to still feel like a real social person, I would then begin to think of certain winter group activities that can be done outdoors. Going for winter hikes during the day is a great way to stay connected to your loved ones while remaining distanced. Enjoy the winter scenery during the day while the sun reflects the beautiful landscapes that come with the colder months.

Another way to see your friends without putting your health at risk is committing to weekly Zoom or Google Hangout happy hour type events. Regardless of if you drink or not, having a scheduled day of the week and time to talk to your friends is necessary for all of us. Try scheduling it for the end of the work week so that you all can unwind, and enjoy each other’s virtual company. 

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Throughout the entire pandemic people have been using their time in lockdown to learn a new skill, practice a new hobby, and work on any other passions they’ve been procrastinating due to the stresses of everyday life. Well, now that winter will really be forcing us all to stay indoors in the coming months, there’s never been a better time to learn something new and keep your mind stimulated. 

Learning a new language, or how to to cook, bake, knit, write poetry, etc. are all amazing stimulants for the mind, body, and soul, and will leave you with an overall accomplished feeling. Watching yourself go from beginner to expert at something even as simple as learning to bake a cake, is rewarding, and I think we all could use some of that positivity right now. 

While travelling is pretty much the last thing on most of our minds, there are still loopholes in working out how to vacation during a pandemic. For example, AirBnb has implemented a whole slew of new health and safety procedures for all participants involved to ensure that guests can still travel during the pandemic without any major risks. Hotels have also implemented these policies, so if you find yourself needing a break from your home, book something today for a few months into the future when you’ll really need a break.

Finally, it’s important to remember that winter also equates to another holiday season. Regardless of what you celebrate, you can’t deny there’s a positive, cheerful, and giving attitude in the air during the holidays. Don’t let Covid-19 stop you and your loved ones from celebrating at home and getting into the spirit of the season. Decorate, watch cheesy Lifetime movies, bake traditional desserts, make some snowmen, and just take a breath to enjoy the fact that you’re with the people you love.

Football Arena

NFL Week 17 Playoff Permutations

As we enter the final round of regular season games this week in the NFL, there are still a number of playoff berths, byes and seeding positions up for grabs. There is even a scenario in which the 7-8 Oakland Raiders sneak into the AFC playoff picture.

In the AFC, Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens already have the first seed and look set to rest many of their starters ahead of the matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots, whose 24-17 win over the Buffalo Bills last week clinched the AFC East title, can secure the second seed and a much needed bye with a win over the Miami Dolphins. A tie or loss for the Kansas City Chiefs at home to the Los Angeles Chargers, who have only won one of their last six, would result in the Patriots having the second seed regardless of the result at Foxborough.

Such a result for the Chiefs would open the door for the Houston Texans, who face the current sixth seed Tennessee Titans. The Texans are the AFC South champions so cannot slip past the fourth seed position, however the Titans are battling to keep their position in the playoff hunt and they know a loss would open the door to the Steelers.

If both the Titans and Steelers lose, the path would be cleared for the Oakland Raiders to make a surprising last minute dash for the final AFC playoff place. The Jon Gruden-led side will of course need to record a win in Denver and finally, they need to hope for an Indianapolis Colts win over the out-of-form Jacksonville Jaguars. Interestingly, the three results the Raiders need that are out of their hands all come in the early slate of Sunday’s fixtures, so they could possibly go into their game against the Denver Broncos knowing a win will secure an unexpected playoff berth.

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Jon Gruden was unsurprisingly bullish about his side’s chances this weekend. “You can’t control what’s going on. We’re going to try to use this as an opportunity to hopefully continue to develop our roster and our team and try to win games,” Gruden said. “If we get some help, that’d be great. That would be awesome.”

If the Raiders are out of playoff contention by the time they kick off, they won’t be resting players. “We’re going to play the best players that we have available and try to win the game,” Gruden said. “We don’t have enough bodies to rest players. We’re going to try to win the game in spite of the circumstances.”

The matchup of the week comes in the form of the NFC West division title game. Sunday Night Football sees the current one seed San Francisco 49ers travel to Seattle to face Russell Wilson’s Seahawks. The situation is clear for the 49ers, who will get the first seed and a bye with a win, or the fifth seed and a wildcard game if they lose.

The Seahawks are guaranteed at least the fifth seed but can go as high as the first if they can beat the 49ers. For that to happen, the Seahawks would also need Green Bay and New Orleans to lose their divisional matchups, against the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers respectively.

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However, if Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay do manage to see off the Lions, the Wisconsin team will be eagerly watching the late Sunday game, knowing that a Seattle win would give them the top seed in the NFC.

The same is true for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints who will clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Panthers and either a Green Bay or San Francisco loss. If both teams lose, Saints will have the opportunity to secure the one seed in the NFC and home field advantage through the playoffs.

Last week saw the Philadelphia Eagles triumph 17-9 over the Dallas Cowboys in a huge NFC East clash. This means the 8-7 Eagles will secure the division with a win over the New York Giants, who have won their last two outings after a nine-game losing streak. For the Cowboys, the only way into the playoffs is an Eagles loss and their own win over the Washington Redskins, who with just three wins in 2019 have the second worst record in the National Football League.

Meanwhile, it may be a relatively quiet Sunday for the Minnesota Vikings, who are locked into the sixth seed. Their fans, however, will be paying close attention to the other games involving NFC playoff sides to see who they will be facing in their wildcard fixture next week. Most likely is a renewal of their NFC North rivalry with the Green Bay Packers or a Minneapolis Miracle revenge game against the Saints.

Girl in Autumn park

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Being A Tourist In Autumn

With fall and Halloween upon us, there’s a specific set of Do’s and Don’ts that are necessary to remember as you take your extended weekends for some fall foliage exposure.