It’s the time of year where the days are short and the nights are long. The sun barely shines in Vancouver these months, and we are always blessed with rain. Cuddling up in a blanket on the couch with a hot drink in hand is the only thing that feels right. Doing anything productive seems to take up all of my energy, and Netflix is thriving with shows I haven’t binge-watched yet.
In addition to this seasonal need for hermit-ing and hibernating, there’s COVID. Bonnie Henry has asked that we don’t see our loved ones and that we keep our circles as small as possible. A stigma is starting to form out of people leaving their homes to engage in normal activities such as eating at a restaurant or working out at the gym. If you forgot to bring your mask to the grocery store, don’t even bother going in. As much as the risk of contracting or spreading COVID is extremely serious and high, the judgment is almost worse.
We’re having to call to check in on our loved ones who live down the street or around the world, and we’re meeting the newest additions to our families through virtual screens and drive-by viewings from the window. Outside of your immediate circle, hugging and physical connection are frowned upon. As is taking off your mask to smile at children.
The majority of us are continuously isolated from our loved ones, our coworkers, our friends, and our daily routines. So how do we stay healthy?
1. Go for walks
The hardest part about going for a walk is actually getting out of the door, especially if it’s raining. Plug your headphones in and enjoy leaving your home for a walk around your neighbourhood. I do this every day, rain or shine. Getting fresh air and connecting with nature naturally makes you feel happier. It releases endorphins and improves focus, allowing you to stay productive all day long.
I mean, it helps having a psycho French Bulldog who will tear apart my home if she doesn’t get some physical activity, but once I step out of the door, I enjoy it. You’ll be surprised at how many people are actually outside taking the same mental break that you are. Don’t be afraid to wave and spread some positive vibes.
2. Create a new routine
We are routine-based creatures. This means that we thrive when we know what to expect and what is expected of us. By creating a new home-based routine, you’re setting small goals for yourself that make getting through each day a lot easier.
I write down a schedule for everything, including my walks. My breakfast, workouts, showers, TV time, work, and just about everything else I do in a day is broken down into a schedule. There is a time allotted for everything. If you have kids at home, create them a schedule too. Of course, be flexible, but hold yourself accountable. This is a way that you can take back some control in your life.
Doing this helps me realize that I actually do have more time in a day than I thought, and I enjoy feeling productive.
3. Video call your loved ones
It’s hard having to speak to the people we love through a phone, but when you get to see their faces, it makes things slightly easier. Schedule regular long chats with your loved ones. Check-in with them and see what they’re doing to stay healthy through winter in a pandemic. Plan a girl’s night over Zoom or have drinks over FaceTime. It’s actually a lot more fun than you may think!
Get creative with your calls. My friends and I planned an art night over Zoom. We each had our wine glasses and paints ready to go and then created fun portraits of each other over friendly banter and gossip.
You can also call your friends and do a workout over video chat. This is a great way to stay motivated and hold each other accountable when it comes to staying physically fit as the holidays approach. Plus, it’s fun!
4. Write letters
Take it back to the 20th Century and write your friends and family a letter. Pop it in the mailbox and wait for them to receive your little surprise. It’s so refreshing to get something other than a bill in your mailbox! They’ll appreciate it. It also feels really good to do something nice for someone else, especially when you’re feeling low.
Be creative with your letters. Decorate them with little illustrations or fold it inside of the envelope the way you used to when you’d pass a note in high school. You can literally write whatever you want. Your friends will just love receiving it.
You can also take this a step further and send your loved ones a gift. There’s a ton of flower shops and little online gift boutiques that specialize in mailing customized orders. Get creative and send your friends and family a little pick-me-up. Uplifting others automatically makes you feel better.
Keep a journal. Write down how you feel every day, what your aspirations are, what you’re grateful for, your manifestations, and your affirmations. This is a wonderful way to acknowledge your emotions and to transfer any negative energy out of your body and into your journal. It’s also great for recognizing what’s going well in your life and for thanking the universe for providing you with some positive moments. Use your journal to reflect, and look back at it often. Recognize how far you’ve come, what worked for you when you were low, and how you stayed high during your best moments.
Falling into a rut this winter is particularly easy as we have the stress of seasonal depression along with the restrictions and limitations of COVID. It’s important to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Personally, going for walks, having a routine, video-calling loved ones, writing letters, and journaling has been great at keeping me grounded and focused. These little steps keep me mentally and physically strong as they allow me to adapt to this new “normal” in a way that helps me stay productive, social, and in control.
Please let me know what helps you stay healthy during this time.