I’m not a fortune teller and I try to not be a negative Nancy, however, my gut is telling me that we are in for a long, rough winter. And I’m not even talking about the weather! This summer has been a blissful reprieve from (almost) everything COVID as I’ve been able to visit with family and friends outdoors, have enjoyed long walks with my husband and our dogs and have enjoyed learning a new activity (kayaking).
I can’t ignore the fact that another cold Alberta winter is a little closer than I might like and that it’s likely to be more difficult than normal, especially in terms of maintaining a good level of mental health. And so, with this in mind, I’ve been thinking of what I can do now to make this winter more tolerable and hopefully, enjoyable.
- Deciding on a new winter activity or two to get outdoors. I’m leaning toward snowshoeing and maybe cross country skiing. I’ve discovered that being outdoors is crucial for me, and I’m hoping that this might allow us to continue some form of socially distanced interactions with friends and family.
- Creating at-home versions of our favourite activities. My husband and I love going out to dinner followed by the orchestra, theater or ballet. I haven’t started looking yet, but I suspect there will be several different options for watching these at home.
- Remaining active. We are fortunate to have the space for a bit of an at-home gym, so we will be purchasing a couple additional items to carry us through while our regular gym is closed. Even if you don’t have the space or extra funds to have a dedicated gym area, you can still do some bodyweight workouts or yoga routines (I ADORE Five Parks Yoga).
- Being aware and mindful of what makes you feel better (and what makes you feel worse!). Keep a list somewhere of easy activities that always make you feel better so that when you are struggling, you have some handholds to climb out of that hole (I actually have a guide with eight ideas that I’d love to share with you! Just signup for my newsletter and they’ll be sent right to your inbox!). Also try to recognize triggers for what makes you feel more anxious/depressed/etc. For me, it’s mindless social media scrolling, watching too much TV and being too overstimulated (working in a noisy office, trying to do too much at once, etc.)
- Learning something new. I’m still working my way through my bachelor’s degree so I am trying to remain optimistic about the extra time I will have this winter to work on this! There are also lots of free/cheap options that you might like to explore, like Duolingo or Coursera.
- Keeping in touch. I won’t try to romanticize this, the restrictions on seeing those we love has been terrible. But we are at least fortunate in the way that we have so many free or almost-free options of keeping in touch, through phone, text, Facetime, social media in general, old school letter writing…I’m going to really try to mindfully utilize these to keep connections with others strong.
- Making a list of activities or things to look forward to. Maybe list out shows you’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t gotten around to or re-watch old favourites (The Office is going to be making it’s way into our routine around February when I’m really struggling, I can tell you that right now!). Maybe every Sunday night can be your at-home spa night where you go all out with candles and relaxing music or maybe Wednesday evenings you do a virtual workout routine with friends. There are lots of fun options, we just have to be a little extra creative this year.
- Recognizing if you already struggled with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Even before COVID really became an issue in Canada, I had planned to purchase a light therapy box. My husband and I work twelve hour shifts and sometimes don’t see the sun for a couple of days at a time. I haven’t bought this light box yet, so I don’t have any recommendations, but I’ll make sure to do a post on what we think (good and bad) after we have a chance to use it. For now, we are enjoying the natural thing!
There we have it! I’d love to hear what you think might make this winter easier to handle. Let me know in the comments below!