As the days get shorter and the snow piles up, our schedules are often altered, as are our moods at times. The “winter blues” can affect how we feel, think, and operate and according to the National Institute of Health, this is quite common during the shift from fall to winter.
Between the change of season and the call to reduce in-person socialization because of COVID-19, stronger feelings of loneliness and isolation may arise.
These shifts in mood may be indicative of a greater issue known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Seasonal Affective Disorder affects nearly 5% of adults in the U.S. each year. SAD is a chemical imbalance that is due to the change in season, it is much more common in the winter months. If you, or someone you know, experiences the symptoms of SAD, please seek the guidance of a medical professional.
Help yourself during times of uncertainty.
- Look after yourself – prioritize your mental health. Practice meditation, begin “mindfulness” exercises, try to live, and think in the present moment and recognize when your mind and body may need more attention. If you feel overwhelmed, make sure you reach out to a mental health professional to seek the guidance they are trained to provide. Make sure you are prioritizing your physical health as well – continue to eat healthily, exercise regularly, and see your doctor as required.
- Connect with others in a new way – connecting with those you love during times of great stress is important. Set up regular phone or video calls, try writing letters to one another, connect in ways you haven’t to replace what would normally be in-person gatherings. Connect with those you may not know as well – right now could be the perfect time to join online groups and forums and meet those that share common interests with you.
- Take it one day at a time – thinking incessantly about an unknown future can be mentally taxing. According to Scientific American, those who work with people which chronic illnesses or serious injuries often do best when they focus on the sensations and feelings they are having in the present moment. Keep your mind on the immediate task at hand and try not to focus on the unknown.
Beat the “blues” with COVID safe activities for the whole family.
- Make your own indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt (depending on the age you can add letters, numbers, sounds, colors, etc.)
- Use those empty, shipping boxes for creating sculptures, houses, etc., or just use them for cardboard building blocks
- Play your favorite music and have a dance party, dance competition, or singing competition.
- If you have Legos, have a Lego building challenge or a daily project to build together
- Have a living room movie night – pick a movie, have a concession stand, etc.
- Design and write your own thank you cards, letters, or stationery
- Make your own playdough, slime, silly putty, etc. – check out a recipe here
- Make pipe cleaner bracelets – make patterns, use alphabet beads – get what you need at the Dollar Store
- Make puppets and put on a puppet show – use paper bags, socks, popsicle sticks to make them
- Design your own board game and have a family board game night to play it
- Create an indoor or outdoor obstacle course using items you already have (Hoola hoops, sticks to make paths, tape, block barriers, etc.)
- Have a cooking party or cooking competition (make pizza together, use certain ingredients to make your own food creation, make your best pancake)
- Put on a fashion show with clothes and accessories you have at home
- Freeze ice and paint it or freeze paint in ice cube trays to paint on paper
- Use sticks and branches outside to make a maze
- Use items around the house to make an ISpy bottle or sensory bottle (rice, oil/water, anything you have around the house can work)
- Take out your flashlights and instead of a campout, have a camp in. Make shadow puppets, tell stories, make s’mores inside
- Draw treasure maps and have an indoor or outdoor hunt for the “treasure”
- Hot chocolate party outside. You could hold a party with just the members of your household or do a socially distanced gathering with neighbors
For more on this topic, refer to the links below: