The COVID-19 pandemic, its resulting stressors and changes, and the increased need for mental health care have been well documented in these past almost 2 years since the coronavirus began its intrusion into our worlds. As a therapist, I've seen firsthand how all walks of life have needed to adjust and adapt to the changing landscape, and how that can result in increases in anxious feelings, sadness, and isolation from others. Because winter, even without a global pandemic, has effects on most people's mental health, it is even more important for us to take a look at ways to combat these winter blues, covid-19 mental health effects and protect ourselves and others from developing more serious concerns if these difficulties go untreated.
Here is our list of ways to Combat the Winter Blues
- Call, contact, or connect with someone every day, even if only for 10 minutes.
- Get outside or near a window — find some quiet time to connect with the sights, sounds, and smells of nature and soak in some much need sunlight.
- Stabilize your eating and sleeping schedule — focus on quality nutrition and sleep to give your body the foundation it needs to feel balanced.
- Express and validate your feelings and needs — carve out some time each day to journal, paint, write, or otherwise express how you are feeling and what you need; you may be surprised what you discover about yourself.
- Exercise — people of any activity level can benefit from movement based coping skills such as yoga (chair yoga for those less limber), walking, stretching, dancing, and other strength building exercises.
- Make environmental adjustments — adjust lighting, put on positive music, declutter, change your seat, turn off the TV, and change other visual stimulation for brain benefits.
- Give to others and the world — donating items you no longer need, volunteering time or talent, joining a cause, or developing a new hobby are all ways to have a purposeful connection with those around us and have brain boosting benefits.
Despite these efforts, some may still experience feelings of sadness, isolation, or lack of interest/energy that interfere in their daily life. More mental health awareness and openness to share struggles has led to more people seeking mental health treatment and fewer barriers to getting the help when the above strategies are not enough to feel better. In our community, the JFS Clinical Counseling Program can help. This program is facilitated by licensed master's level clinicians who are experienced in guiding people of differing age groups in a therapeutic process in a safe and secure setting, often telehealth during this time. Children adjusting to life changes or struggling with big emotions have one-on-one attention and home coping planning to assist them and their parents in reducing negative feelings and behaviors. Teenagers have someone to talk to who can help them better connect with the adults and supports in their life. Adults have a listening ear and engage in problem solving and communication work. Seniors, battling isolation or medical issues and other changes, have specialized care and support as well. These are just some examples of how our program supports those in our community.
In addition to counseling, Jewish Family Services also offers groups that provide peer support, psychoeducation, and links to community resources in a small, intimate group environment.
If you know of a child, adolescent or family who would benefit from counseling or other programs, please encourage them or their guardian to contact Jewish Family Service of Somerset Hunterdon and Warren Counties at 908-725-7799 for more information or to enroll. Insurance is utilized and sliding fee is available for those who are underinsured. JFS of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties is committed to serving the needs of the community and provides a continuum of programs and services open to all. For more information, please call us at (908)725-7799 or contact us online.