Most of us think of winter as cold and flu season. And now, of course, we can add Covid to the mix. But many of us confront another common health risk during the cooler season: We tend to stay home more and get lonely. Couple that with shorter days, less exercise, and less sunlight, and the combination can deeply impact our mental health.
This year might be even worse than usual, with experts predicting a surge in Covid cases that might frighten you into staying home even more. So, what can you do to combat loneliness and preserve your mental and emotional health?
Get outside. Even if you only sit on your own patio, sitting in the sunlight will boost your mood. Going for a walk, visiting a nearby park, or simply going for a drive can also provide safer options for outdoor time.
Go high-tech. If you haven’t already, invest in a smartphone, tablet, or laptop with a front-facing camera. Upgrade to a high-speed internet connection and enjoy video calls with friends and family. It’s not exactly the same as being in the same room, but it’s definitely an acceptable substitute.
Maintain a routine. Most of us do better when we follow a daily routine. Include self-care activities such as exercise, a relaxing hobby, and personal grooming. Make sure you include social contact and do something that makes you feel productive (such as volunteer work or helping a neighbor).
Try something new. Retirement is the ideal time to try new activities or hobbies that have always interested you. And luckily, there are many ways to learn something new online, or within small groups. Order the supplies you need and sign up for a virtual painting class, search YouTube for yoga instruction, or learn a new sport like tennis or golf. Keeping your life exciting helps you to stave off boredom and meet new friends.
Talk to your doctor. If the winter blues begin to feel more serious than usual, talk to your doctor about the options available to you. They can point you toward a mental health professional and other resources to help you get healthier and feel happier.