Winter is coming: Seek peace and joy in the months ahead

November 5, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources, ,

Winter is just around the corner. And while the colder weather may evoke warm thoughts of hot cocoa and sitting by the fireplace with cozy socks and a blanket, some people may have a harder time finding moments of mental peace moving forward.  

Seasonal affective disorder, SAD or seasonal depression, may increase this year as there are several stressors to add on top of long, dark, cold days and nights. As COVID-19 cases rise, flu season approaches, the election results trickle in, routines change and the frigid weather takes over, winter will be rough for most people.

On top of that, the holiday season will look different this year as friends and families are unable to gather like previous years. It is important to acknowledge these changes and mentally prepare yourself to avoid winter isolation.

Here’s how: 

Open a window

Whether you are at home, in the car or in the office, crack open a window to allow fresh air to move through the space. Opening a window can also exchange polluted air for fresh air, making your space more healthy. For more information on how to keep your air clean, click here

Reduce screen time

Many adults and children have been in Zoom meetings and managing other apps since March. As winter approaches, more screen time is likely. However, instead of increasing screen time try to decrease it. Perhaps have a ‘no phone’ zone in your home. Or after work (or school), find an activity that does not require a computer or phone. Try: cooking a new recipe, reading a book, painting, woodwork, scrapbooking, board games, jigsaw puzzles or writing. 

Prepare for holiday routine changes

The holidays will look seriously different this year due to pandemic restrictions. Many families won’t travel or gather and that may leave some feeling even more isolated or lonely. However, there are a few creative ways to still have fun for the holidays with your friends, family and even coworkers. While these suggestions are no fix for SAD or a replacement for human contact, they are simple ways to spark a small joy in someone’s life.

  • Start a virtual holiday recipe book (stay tuned to Headlines for more on that in the weeks ahead!)
  • Have a virtual bake-off (learn how to make those delicious pies or pastries!)
  • Have a holiday decor competition (who has the brightest house?!) 
  • Read traditional bedtime stories to children via Facetime or Zoom
  • Drop off food to a family member in need or food pantry
  • Find safe ways to give back to the community like participating in a winter clothing drive 

Find something to look forward to

Where is your 2020 planner? Can’t find it? You are not alone. 

While most 2020 plans went down the drain, that doesn’t mean 2021 will be the same. Setting goals and making plans will give you something to look forward to in the upcoming year. 

The world is different now and the new normal has yet to be determined. Take some time this winter to write out a few personal, career, financial, educational and fun goals.

And share those goals with Headlines! We want to know what you are most looking forward to in the months ahead. Do you have any new projects or hobbies you are undertaking? Are you binging some great TV shows or listening to audio books or podcasts? How are you planning to spend the winter? 

Email your responses to headlines@med.umich.edu or put them in the comments section below. They could be featured in an upcoming edition of Headlines!  

This is one in a series of wellness stories highlighted in Headlines this week. Previous stories touched on sleeping habits, finding the good amid the chaos and tips to avoid getting burned out. Do you have ideas for future wellness stories moving forward? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing headlines@med.umich.edu!

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