Winter can be a tough season in the best of times. For many people—especially those in colder regions, this winter will be tougher than most. As flu season and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic converge, anxiety is running high. Plus, feelings of isolation and loneliness will likely only increase as the weather gets colder and it becomes more difficult to socialize outdoors. So what should you do?
According to psychologists, the best way to combat these feelings is to not dwell on the negative. Additionally, retail therapy might help in the short term, but this is hardly a sustainable strategy for the long term. Instead, they suggest focusing on others instead of directing all of your energy inward. Of course, there are tons of ways to do this, and they’ll vary from person to person. But, if you’re dreading the winter blues, here are some ways to focus your energy outward and combat those negative feelings.
Create social connectedness. Part of healthy aging is building and maintaining relationships. Making social connections is important for a variety of reasons. Not only does it boost your mental health, it can also bolster physical health. Studies show that an active social life can help prevent memory loss. It’s also one of the best predictors of a long and pleasant life. But, you don’t have to have a lot of friends to feel connected. Performing acts of kindness, such as donating charity or volunteering your time can help you achieve the same effect.
Find a sense of purpose. According to psychologists, a clear sense of purpose is incredibly effective in helping people cope with isolation. One simple way to do this is to choose something to keep track of. Maybe animals that visit your backyard, or rainfall. Volunteering to participate in a citizen science project can help you connect with the larger world around you. If that’s not your jam, don’t lose heart. You can also pick a project you’ve always wanted to get around to—maybe a big home improvement project, or that novel you’ve always wanted to write.
Cultivate inspiration. We’ve talked about some of the amazing effects of gratitude before, and these still hold true. Practicing gratitude for the things and people around you can help reduce stress and depression. Whether you choose to journal about something or someone you’re truly grateful for or write them a letter, the positive effects can last for months.