Mental Health Tips for a Winter of Quarantine

It’s no secret that most everyone is under stress right now with the current state of the world. With winter just around the corner and the spikes in COVID-19 cases across the nation, the upcoming months may be more stressful than in the past. Actions we take to protect public health can increase feelings of loneliness, fear, and anxiety. These times are affecting us all differently and it’s crucial to take care of ourselves and prioritize our mental health. 

Having to stay physically distant from others in order to stay safe can feel unnatural and take a toll on one’s mental and physical health. Humans are social creatures, and having to take those precautions can lead to more serious mental health issues. To help combat feelings of loneliness, reaching out to family and friends when things aren’t going well can help people feel less alone. Staying connected to loved ones and keeping up with friends might make our current situation feel more bearable. Calling family over Zoom is a good way to stay connected. Playing games like Kahoot or even watching movies together is a way to have virtual fun with family or friends. Loved ones around you may not always reach out first, but checking in on them is a kind way to let others know they aren’t alone.

Along with the importance of staying informed, keeping busy can be a nice distraction from stressful situations. Finding a new hobby, skill or project to work on can give you something to look forward too, and is a productive way to pass the     time.

Learning how to cook or bake can be a good way to keep yourself busy, and finding new recipes is a great way to experiment at home. Besides baking, working on home improvement projects is a way to stay productive and transform a space. Things like rearranging the furniture in your room, or repainting walls is a way to switch things up and avoid boredom.

Although it’s important to stay informed on current events, taking breaks from watching, reading, and listening to news stories can be beneficial. Constantly listening to information about the current crises, such as the wildfires, the pandemic, and the election can be upsetting. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be informed about the current state of the world, but taking breaks from the media can be helpful in these stressful times.

Over the summer it was easy to take walks and enjoy being outside. Spending time getting fresh air is a great way to relieve stress and get some exercise in. With the temperatures dropping and the sun setting earlier, doing such things may get difficult. It’s not uncommon to feel sluggish or unhappy during the winter months but, maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and even getting enough vitamin D can help get rid of the winter blues. During the colder months many people find that getting healthy movement and exercise can be beneficial. Indoor exercises such as yoga and stretching are ways to stay active at home. Strength exercises like sit ups, pushups, and jumping jacks don’t require any equipment but allow you to stay active. Exercising regularly can keep you healthy during a stressful time, and although it won’t be outside in the sun, it can still reduce stress and gives a possible cure to cabin fever.

Along with the importance of taking care of yourself it’s also important to realize that everyone copes differently, and that self care doesn’t have to look a certain way. While eating healthy and getting enough sleep is important, it’s okay to take extra time for yourself, to binge Netflix shows or to eat from your favorite fast food restaurants once in a while, if that makes you happy. Having high expectations for yourself can be a good thing but it can also lead to disappointment, which is why being realistic and forgiving with yourself is the most important.