November lifehacks

I've always lived in the Northeast or Midwest, where November presents two obstacles to well-being: darkness and cold. Here are a couple of 43-Folderish lifehacks that I find extremely helpful.

Combating darkness with light is an obvious solution, but for years I was using the wrong tool for the job. My light box, similar to the one shown on the left, never really made a dent in the seasonal affective disorder that settles in when daylight savings time ends. Plus it was an awkward and ugly contraption that was pretty much exiled to my office.

When the ballast in the light box died in September, I decided to try something different. And the BlueMax desklamp shown on the right turns out to be dramatically different. The light box claimed to put out full-spectrum light, and I'm sure it did, but despite its 10,000-lux rating it never felt intensely bright. The BlueMax lamp, on the other hand, really does produce the sensation of artificial sunlight. And because it looks more like a normal lamp, I use it not only in my office but also elsewhere in the house. It's well-balanced, universally adjustable, dimmable, and makes a great reading light. For the first time ever, I feel like I'm effectively warding off the greyness of November.

Combating cold with warmth is another obvious solution, but there are different effects produced by cold and different ways to apply warmth. The aspect of cold weather that's always bothered me most, ever since high school, is the effect it has on my hands. I do a lot of typing, my hands have always been RSI-prone, and cold weather exacerbates the problem.

A couple of years ago I sprung for a paraffin wax heat bath and it's been a very useful tool. You dip your hands in repeatedly, ten or twelve times, to create a set of wax gloves that release heat for about five minutes. It's not a panacea. Stretching and exercise are other necessary parts of my strategy for keeping my hands in shape. But considering how hard my hands work and how much I depend on them, the benefits of hot wax therapy more than justify the cost of the kit.

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