Tuesday Tip: How to Stay Connected When the Cold ComesOctober 13, 2020
This week’s Tuesday Well-Being Tip is to overcome winter blues rumination by making a well-being plan now.
There are so many historic events taking place right now that it’s hard to give proper attention to the multiple issues that may be affecting your mental health. Between the continuing Covid-19 pandemic and all its numerous side effects (health fears, isolation and loneliness, parenting stress, financial constraints and challenges, etc.) and the upcoming divisive U.S. election causing “election anxiety,” it’s hard to prevent your mental state from moving into overdrive. And, for those who live in cold-weather climates, many are now adding a sense of impending doom: can we manage all of this and winter (again)?
Healthy Minds Innovations’ headquarters is based in Madison, WI, a city that sees its fair share of snow and cold. The first few days of falling leaves have just begun, but the “winter is coming” narrative is already going strong. If you are also dreading the next few months, read on for some tips and tools to manage, thrive and, most importantly, stay connected during a winter like none before.
This week’s Tuesday Tip: Support Your Well-Being in Winter
- Stop the spiral, and find calm. We’ve talked about this before, but basically, any time your thoughts are running through multiple scenarios, it’s a good time to take a breath and slow down. One of our first Covid-19 specific meditations, “Calm in the Midst of Chaos,” is perfect for this moment. As you find yourself picturing only the worst for this upcoming winter, remember, those are just thoughts, not reality. Take a breath, do the practice and move on to something you CAN control.
- Take control of something. Make a plan now for how you will be keeping up with your mental health needs in the winter months.
- Embrace Hygge. Hygge (Pronounced “hoo-guh”) is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. Leaning into the coziness is a great way to embrace the positive of cold weather. Go for a socially distanced winter walk, light candles and cuddle up under a blanket with someone from your quarantine pod, make hot cocoa.
- Adapt your current exercise plan to the cold weather. Is this the year to adapt your activities for outside?
- Schedule something to look forward to in the midst of winter. While you probably can’t travel far, maybe there’s a small change of scenery you can plan for January, or you can save up for a purchase to enjoy in the dark days post-holidays and pre-spring.
- Make small, achievable plans to support your mental health weekly, like a “weekly resolution.” This can be simple, like “every Monday I’m going to meditate,” or “I won’t pay attention to the news every Tuesday.”
- Increase your connection meditations. Many of us have been able to enjoy some form of safe social connection throughout the warmer months and fear the increase of impending isolation when outdoor activities are reduced. But thanks to connection meditations, you can feel connected, even when you are separated. In fact, our founder, Dr. Richard Davidson, has always maintained we should call it “physical distancing” not “social distancing” for this reason. Try out Dr. Davidson’s Our Common Humanity practice, or this practice which supports appreciating the strangers you see each day (like the grocery store employees or your postal worker).
- Increase your actual connections. Don’t retreat into further isolation because it’s harder to get together with friends and family. Continue to safely see your network either virtually, through bundled up outdoor activities, or just a regular phone call. Isolation and loneliness can be devastating to your mental health, so try to nurture your connections, even if your instinct is to hibernate.
Winter is coming, there’s no denying or avoiding it. But, stopping the negative rumination, making positive plans for what is in your control, and keeping up with your social connections whether virtually, safely in-person, or through practice can support your mental health through the season.
Get more practices and tips by downloading the Healthy Minds Program App, freely available thanks to the generosity of our donors wherever you get your apps.