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Navigating Feelings of Social Isolation This Winter

By: Emily Morris, MSWI

Many people are understandably worried about what the next several months will look like, as COVID-19 cases are rising and temperatures are dropping. Colder weather and less daylight hours can result in heightened feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety (see our article on Seasonal Affective Disorder). Additionally, ways to safely spend time with loved ones are becoming more and more limited as we approach the winter, when we will not be able to spend as much time outdoors. As we near the end of 2020 and enter what may be a difficult winter, we wanted to provide you with some tips to navigate feelings of isolation and loneliness over these next several months.

SLEEP. Did you know that sleep significantly impacts your mood? Getting a good sleep every night can have very positive effects for both your physical and emotional wellbeing, and also improves your ability to cope with stress. If you have trouble sleeping, check out our article on sleep skills.

MOVEMENT. Being stationary all day can be negative for our mental and physical health, especially when that is coupled with sitting in front of a screen. Physical movement and exercise can significantly boost our mood. Try to move your body throughout the day. This could be any type of indoor exercise, or you can bundle up and take a walk outside, which, on a sunnier day, can also increase your vitamin D intake. Perhaps you have a friend or family member who would join you virtually or outdoors!

STAYING CONNECTED WITH LOVED ONES. Although spending time with family and friends is a much greater challenge during the pandemic, it is beneficial for our mental health to try to find ways to safely connect with loved ones. Schedule a phone call or video chat with someone you care about. This can help provide you both with emotional support during these isolating times. You could even try planning a virtual activity, like game night! Virtual interactions like these can help you feel less socially isolated during this winter season.

SELF-CARE. Even with the extra time on our hands during the pandemic, it can still be difficult to make time for ourselves and our mental health. Be sure to set aside time during the week for self-care. From watching your favorite television show to taking a bubble bath, remember that self-care can look different for everyone!

THERAPY. If you are having a difficult time navigating isolation, anxiety, and/or depression this winter, individual mental health counseling or group therapy are both great resources for additional support.

Share these tips with other friends, family, and loved ones who may also be experiencing heightened feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety this winter.