When the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over, all the presents are opened, and the decorations have been taken down, there can be a bit of an emotional let down.  The cold, winter months can be isolating, but they may be especially so this year as the pandemic continues.

Now is the time to make some plans, gather support and resources, and prepare for the winter.  Similar to our frontier ancestors who would store food and supplies for the winter months, we can create a coping toolbox.  Below you will find some general ideas to get you started in creating your toolbox:

  1. On a sheet of paper, in your journal, or on a pad of paper, brainstorm coping resources that work well for you.  When you are struggling, what do you turn to for help?  Jot down all of the ideas that come to mind, even if you cannot access them during the pandemic.
  2. Categorize the coping tools you have listed.  List which ones are helpful for social support, emotional coping, physical health, and spiritual connection.
  3. Consider how to adapt the tools for use during the pandemic.  For instance, if you would normally have lunch with friends when you were a bit down, consider setting up a zoom lunch date with the same group of people.  Everyone can grab their lunch and be together virtually as they eat.  While we may not be able to use the same tools we always have, if you get a little creative you can usually find ways to adapt the tools to our current situation.  If you are struggling with this, you might ask a friend for help.
  4. Place the list somewhere you will encounter it regularly.  It helps to have a reminder of these tools and resources so that you are not only turning to them when you need help but are also intertwining them into your daily life.  Deep breathing and meditation are coping skills for anxiety, but when used on a daily basis there is evidence that they are also good for the prevention of stress.
  5. You might also create what is called a “healing nook” in your home.  It can be as simple as a comfy chair and a side table.  Add framed photographs or motivational quotes, good books or spiritual tools, and other items that cue you to take time for self-care.  Be sure to add a copy of your coping toolbox to your healing nook!
  6. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of worsening depression and seek help.   In winter months, some people may experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Others may feel more loneliness or notice more feelings of grief and loss.  If these symptoms become persistent and start to affect every day life, it is important to seek assistance to rule out Major DepressionMayo Clinic says of depression, “More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness and you can’t simply ‘snap out’ of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychotherapy or both.”  Many therapy sessions, physician appointments, and support groups are offered via telehealth or other virtual options. If you were to experience feelings of hopelessness or suicidal thoughts, the Statewide Crisis Line is a 24/7/365 call system to help anyone experiencing a mental health crisis. All calls are routed to a trained crisis specialist within your area. The service is free. Call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471)

With a little planning and preparation, you can weave your coping tools into everyday life to help your winter months have less “blah” and more beauty!  We wish you a very happy holiday season and a winter filled with good health.

Important Note: We are an Elder Law Firm and do not provide nursing or health care services. The Life Care Plan is not intended to provide instruction concerning what health care you need and who should provide it. You should consult with your physician regarding all health care decisions.