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How To Cope With the Winter Blues During the Pandemic

I work with many clients who struggle with anxiety and/or depression whether it is related to their personal life, professional life, the political climate, the pandemic, or the darker and shorter winter-like days. 2020 certainly has been having a significant impact on my clients’ mental and physical health. Many times, around this year I encourage clients to think about ways to be proactive regarding the “winter blues.” The “winter blues” likely is going to be more challenging this year; I don’t say that to be pessimistic, but I say that to help clients and myself be more proactive about what they should do to help manage their winter blues during the pandemic.

I recently read an article that touched on this very topic from Fast Company, “Why this pandemic winter is the perfect time to try out ‘slow work’” by author Diana Shi. Below describes some of Shi’s recommendations highlighted in her article.

Learn to cook/bake something exciting. 

I used to not really enjoy cooking or baking to be truly honest! However, with the pandemic, it has given me a bit more time at my home and I tapped into this new interest of mine. The utility of cooking is that it actively brings you to the present moment, especially if you are baking something new and need to be a bit more precise with the measurements. My new pandemic Saturday morning routine has become making homemade chocolate chip pancakes, highly recommend!

Get crafty. 

I have talked to numerous clients who used to really enjoy scrapbooking and drawing growing up, but as adults have not been able to tap into that hobby due to the hustle and bustle of life. With most places shut down, this now has allowed people to bring back their childhood favorite activities. Some clients have even decided to make a gratitude scrapbook which has boosted their mood during this very tough time.

Set intentions for 2021

2020 has certainly been a tough year, maybe to close out this year, you can write out some intentions for 2021. I like the word ‘intention’ because it implies more of a daily lifestyle as opposed to a specific ‘goal’. It helps focus on what you ‘want’ to do versus what you ‘have’ to do. For example, maybe you have intentions to continue to connect with your family in 2021 even when things eventually go back to “normal” again in 2021.

Longer-term activities. 

What I mean by longer-term activities, are activities that build up over time reaching a specific goal; for example, painting your kitchen cabinets would be a longer-term activity. It is hard to paint your entire kitchen cabinets in one day, so seeing the progress day by day can be very rewarding and therapeutic for most people. Other clients have invested in buying a 1,000-piece puzzle which certainly takes time to complete. I think we all need “small wins” these days to help manage the impact of the pandemic’s stress.

Start a new book/television series. 

Similar to the previous example, starting a new book or television series can also have a similar effect as you get more invested in the plot development. It is also a very healthy way to decompress and have some escapism from the stress around us.

Rest!!! 

Most importantly, it is crucial to give yourself a break. 2020 has been a tough year. What I have been encouraging my clients more than ever for this pandemic winter that we are heading into, is to simply recharge, reset, and relax. Life will eventually go back to normal and things will feel busy again. This winter can be a restorative time for you, that is if you set that intention! 

If you are currently struggling with the winter blues or the pandemic in general, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors in Chicago at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.

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