By: Helen Kaidantzis
Even though it doesn’t snow where I live, my winter days are still dreary. During this current pandemic, I often feel like I have no choice but to spend all day shut inside and alone. There is less daylight, it's rarely sunny, and the post-holiday slump hits hard. School feels repetitive, and it feels like summer is years away. With all these things going on, it's easy to slip into a miserable routine and push your mental health to the side. There have been many January days when I look up at 4 pm only to see that I’m still in my pajamas, and I’ve gone through 6 episodes of a show. This is okay. It’s important to cut yourself some slack and give yourself a day off to rest. However, whenever this daily routine goes on for weeks, I start getting headaches, I feel guilty about not spending time with my friends, and I feel even more tired and down.
The first thing I do when I catch myself feeling this way is go outside. Sometimes “outside” means ten deep breaths while standing on my doorstep, and other days it means an hour-long walk. Fresh air helps me clear my mind, feel cleaner, and wake up. Something else I like to do is hug someone. Physical contact and getting or giving a hug releases endorphins and relaxes your muscles. Spending time with my family and friends also allows me to talk through some of my problems and regain connections with them.
Once I feel temporarily better, I like to make changes to my life that will prevent me from falling back into a downward spiral. Writing out some filling and comforting recipes helps me eat more nutritious food that will give me the energy to be productive. It also allows me to have fun while cooking. I love lentil and butternut squash soup, so I always find a new bread recipe to go with it. Next, cleaning up my workspace helps me focus better and encourages me to spend more time reading and learning rather than becoming too absorbed in my phone. Lastly, I make an effort to get ready most days. Taking a shower and putting on some real clothes boosts my self-confidence and soothes my mind by making me feel like I have a purpose.
I do not always follow my own advice. That’s okay too. Sometimes all you can manage is splashing water on your face or briefly opening the window before curling back up in bed. It’s important to remember that everybody feels unmotivated or isolated sometimes. Reaching out on the InTouch Platform by joining a group is a great way to feel less alone. I hope this left you feeling a little calmer and more reassured. Spring and summer will come soon!