October 7, 2020

5 tips to manage pandemic stress during the winter

Creating a warm hygge-lit atmosphere with candles, string lights, twinkle lights and a warm beverage is just one of the tips to help make it through the heart of winter (during a pandemic).

We made it through the past 6 months, but what are some of the ways we did it? Planted vegetables, grew flowers, revamped outdoor spaces, went on bike rides, baked bread, homeschooled and found new ways of staying connected virtually.

But the curtain closes and a new scene begins — enter the fall and winter months. Anxiety might be settling in about how to do this again in the heart of winter. Summer is over and it’s time for some serious planning for optimum mental health. Here are some tips to help make it through:

  • Tip 1 — Keep doing the things that worked the first time around.
    • For example, if being outdoors was the best medicine, keep it up. Although, things may have to be altered a bit. How about an outdoor heater? Fire pit? Warm, comfortable winter boots? Snowshoes? Cross country skis? Heavier outer gear? There are many outdoor family activities to embrace such as sledding, ice skating and building snow forts (channel the inner 7-year-old).
  • Tip 2 — Grow plants all year round.
    • Keeping in touch with nature has many psychological benefits. Being surrounded by plants can improve mood, reduce stress, anxiety and encourage healthy eating by growing herbs and vegetables inside all winter long.
  • Tip 3 — Turn the light on.
    • Those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, should seriously consider a light therapy lamp (on Amazon starting at $19.99 and up). According to the National Institute for Mental Health, "Symptoms of SAD may be relieved by sitting in front of a light box first thing in the morning, on a daily basis from the early fall until spring. Most typically, light boxes filter out the ultraviolet rays and require 20 to 60 minutes of exposure to 10,000 lux of cool-white fluorescent light, an amount that is about 20 times greater than ordinary indoor lighting."
  • Tip 4 — Stock up on Vitamin D before the season hits.
    • Don't wait until that sinking feeling creeps in, start taking the supplement early in the fall. Some studies suggest that pairing the supplements with light therapy can really bolster the outcome.
  • Tip 5 — And finally … create a Hygge house.
    • Hygge is a Danish word (pronounced Hue-Guh), meaning a quality of coziness that makes a person feel content and comfortable. But it also is a feeling of being content in the moment alone or with family and friends, recognizing and — then thoroughly — enjoying it.
    • The Danish created Hygge to survive long winter months, cut through the mundane, and survive the lack of sunlight. Here are some ways to create a Hygee:
      • a.) Create a warm hygge-lit atmosphere (all yearlong) with candles, string lights and twinkle lights. Don't think you have to buy expensive candles; the flame free candles create a great hygge-lit coziness and are very economical.
      • b.) Put a kettle on. Warm liquids like coffee, tea, hot cocoa is essential for achieving hygge. Make it a ritual.
      • c.) Get the snuggly stuff out. Fuzzy socks, soft blankets, winter comforters, pillows, flannel pajamas, warm sweaters and hats are perfect to add to your hygge snugafication.
      • d.) Dust off that slow cooker. Slow things down, including cooking. Think healthy soups, stews, roasted chicken — cooking longer and slower produces comforting aromas throughout the hygge nest.

Rounding the next corner, rest assured there are things to do, to not only pull through these unprecedented times together, but maybe get a glimpse into what the “new normal” should have looked like all along.

The preceding article is courtesy of the Ulliance Employee Assistance Program, a benefit service provided by Wayne State University. Find out more information and connect at (800) 448-8326 with a Life Advisor Consultant who can help find ways to enhance work/life balance and increase happiness.

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