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Surviving and Thriving in a Pandemic Winter

The arrival of 2021 brings about an opportunity to close the door on a previously challenging year and start fresh. While pandemic measures are ongoing, and many questions remain, there is one certainty that 2021 brings – winter. That’s right, the winter season is upon us, and it brings colder temperatures, shorter days and less sunlight. These seasonal changes can, in turn, have an impact on our physical and mental health, such as an increase in fatigue, a decrease in energy, trouble concentrating and disruptions to sleep patterns. Therefore, the impacts of winter compounded with an ongoing pandemic means there is a need to check-in and recommit to our wellness routines.

Typical recommendations for this time of year, which often include socialization and staying active, are more challenging to implement while following COVID guidelines. Yet with some modifications, we can still support our physical and mental health during the winter months by trying the following:

Maintain a Routine

Try mirroring a standard workday. Build a schedule for yourself and work to have set times to complete tasks. Developing and maintaining a routine can create structure and bring a sense normalcy to our days, which many of us are currently craving.

Develop a Wind-Down Routine

Sleep is frequently disrupted during the winter months as the changes in light exposure interrupt our sleep patterns. Additionally, as many of us working from home, the boundaries between work and our personal life are easily blurred. Implement a routine that promotes separation from the workday and relaxation to set yourself up for a night of restful sleep.

Set Short-Term Goals

Cold temperatures and short days often make it easy to settle into the couch and stay there. While having down-time is vital to restore our energy, working towards a goal can relieve the boredom of spending the majority of our time indoors. Completing tasks can create a sense of accomplishment as well as satisfaction and control in very uncontrollable circumstances. Ensure your goals are short-term and achievable, and you can complete them in the next hour, day or week.

Get Outside & Get Some Sunlight

Although winter conditions can be pretty unwelcoming, exposure to fresh air and sunlight is crucial during the darker months. Getting outside and soaking up some sun helps regulate our circadian rhythms. These rhythms impact not only sleep but mood patterns as well. Even a 15-minute walk around the block can be beneficial. That means it’s time to bundle up, take in the sunshine and get your body moving.

Invest in a Light Therapy Lamp

As an additional or alternative measure to increasing light exposure, invest in a light therapy lamp. These lamps offers similar benefits to natural light and allow you to control your intake on especially overcast days. Use the lamp at the beginning of your day for 20-30 minutes.

Stay Connected

Socializing is imperative for maintaining our health, but restrictions mean our contact with friends and family is limited. While texts and phone calls are great ways to stay in touch regularly, it’s important to see the faces of our loved ones. Use platforms like Zoom, Skype or FaceTime to have calls with friends and family. If you’re tired of virtual meetings, try including an activity like having dinner, playing a game, or watching a movie.

Maintain/Adjust Health Habits

Making sure that we are attending to our basic needs is critical for our mental and physical health. The many changes over the past year have likely led to the disruption of some of our health habits. Taking care of our minds and bodies means getting enough sleep, eating well, and frequent body movement.

***

For further information and immediate support on managing your health as we head into the winter months, please do not hesitate to reach out to us and get connected to a psychologist.

 

 

 

Post by Avery Morris, Registered Provisional Psychologist

 

The arrival of 2021 brings about an opportunity to close the door on a previously challenging year and start fresh. While pandemic measures are ongoing, and many questions remain, there is one certainty that 2021 brings – winter. That’s right, the winter season is upon us, and it brings colder temperatures, shorter days and less sunlight. These seasonal changes can, in turn, have an impact on our physical and mental health, such as an increase in fatigue, a decrease in energy, trouble concentrating and disruptions to sleep patterns. Therefore, the impacts of winter compounded with an ongoing pandemic means there is a need to check-in and recommit to our wellness routines.

Typical recommendations for this time of year, which often include socialization and staying active, are more challenging to implement while following COVID guidelines. Yet with some modifications, we can still support our physical and mental health during the winter months by trying the following:

Maintain a Routine

Try mirroring a standard workday. Build a schedule for yourself and work to have set times to complete tasks. Developing and maintaining a routine can create structure and bring a sense normalcy to our days, which many of us are currently craving.

Develop a Wind-Down Routine

Sleep is frequently disrupted during the winter months as the changes in light exposure interrupt our sleep patterns. Additionally, as many of us working from home, the boundaries between work and our personal life are easily blurred. Implement a routine that promotes separation from the workday and relaxation to set yourself up for a night of restful sleep.

Set Short-Term Goals

Cold temperatures and short days often make it easy to settle into the couch and stay there. While having down-time is vital to restore our energy, working towards a goal can relieve the boredom of spending the majority of our time indoors. Completing tasks can create a sense of accomplishment as well as satisfaction and control in very uncontrollable circumstances. Ensure your goals are short-term and achievable, and you can complete them in the next hour, day or week.

Get Outside & Get Some Sunlight

Although winter conditions can be pretty unwelcoming, exposure to fresh air and sunlight is crucial during the darker months. Getting outside and soaking up some sun helps regulate our circadian rhythms. These rhythms impact not only sleep but mood patterns as well. Even a 15-minute walk around the block can be beneficial. That means it’s time to bundle up, take in the sunshine and get your body moving.

Invest in a Light Therapy Lamp

As an additional or alternative measure to increasing light exposure, invest in a light therapy lamp. These lamps offers similar benefits to natural light and allow you to control your intake on especially overcast days. Use the lamp at the beginning of your day for 20-30 minutes.

Stay Connected

Socializing is imperative for maintaining our health, but restrictions mean our contact with friends and family is limited. While texts and phone calls are great ways to stay in touch regularly, it’s important to see the faces of our loved ones. Use platforms like Zoom, Skype or FaceTime to have calls with friends and family. If you’re tired of virtual meetings, try including an activity like having dinner, playing a game, or watching a movie.

Maintain/Adjust Health Habits

Making sure that we are attending to our basic needs is critical for our mental and physical health. The many changes over the past year have likely led to the disruption of some of our health habits. Taking care of our minds and bodies means getting enough sleep, eating well, and frequent body movement.

***

For further information and immediate support on managing your health as we head into the winter months, please do not hesitate to reach out to us and get connected to a psychologist.

 

 

 

Post by Avery Morris, Registered Provisional Psychologist