Avoid Social-Isolation Blues this Winter

During the warmer months, we could fend off the worst of pandemic isolation by gathering with friends and family outside. But, now that winter has set in, people living in colder parts of the country are feeling the chill of isolation more than ever.

For many of us, that means the blues could come on and we might feel like we have no recourse. But, mental health experts say there’s plenty we can do to get through this winter of isolation. Below are some tips to help with our winter blues:

Give yourself time to grieve. Miami-based mental health counselor Raquel Espinel Suarez says acknowledging the pain of isolation is fine, so long as you don’t dwell on it. “It’s okay to give ourselves time and space to cry, complain or be angry at a time like this,” she says. “But remember to set a timer—literally—so that there’s a hard end to any wallowing. Once it dings, do something that will trigger happiness, bring back a pleasant memory or make you smile.”

Engage your senses. Activating your senses can help boost your mood. So eat something spicy, light fragrant candles (aromas like vanilla and pine have proven to reduce anxiety and depression) or put on music that moves you.

Connect virtually. Sure, many of us are sick of Zoom meetings, but spending time on video chats with people you love can be good for you. Set up time to play games using technology, to discuss movies you’ve watched, or even to have a virtual dinner party. Don’t let social distancing equate to social disconnection.

Schedule fun. Being “stuck” with your family doesn’t have to mean being stuck in a rut. Schedule fun activities for times when you might otherwise all go off in different directions. You might have to get creative to think of something fresh, but that should add to the fun.

Get mindful. “Mindfulness” has become a bit of a buzzword, substituting in some cases for “meditation,” which puts some people off as “new agey.” But the truth is, taking the time to quiet your mind can be helpful in times like these, and it doesn’t have to be intimidating. A number of apps are available to help you get into your head and get out of your funk. Popular ones are Headspace, Calm and Simple Habit. Check them out and see if they help you dispel the dismay of pandemic isolation.

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