How to Manage Isolation and Loneliness in a Winter Pandemic

By Leanna Alonso, LSW

Coping with Depression.

The combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and dark wintery months means prolonged and extreme isolation for many. The resulting deep feelings of loneliness can put your mental health in danger. Here’s what you can do about it.

First, I want to emphasize that feelings of loneliness and sadness, especially right now, are NORMAL.

Those who are extroverted, most likely, have been struggling with the social isolation during this pandemic a lot more than their introverted friends.

However, keep in mind that both introverts and extroverts need human connection. Humans are social creatures, and need to socialize to have happy, stable and healthy minds.

Dark Days

Feelings of loneliness have become more prevalent during the pandemic, and those feelings are exacerbated by the dark winter months.

Research has proven that feelings of isolation, sadness or depression typically do occur more often during winter months due to the lack of sunshine. Vitamin D is important in helping to balance our mood and our overall general happiness. Many people living in the Midwest or other areas where there is less sun may possibly be vitamin D deficient.

Also, people generally don’t socialize as much in the winter months compared to months when the weather is nice.

Bottom line, not socializing can cause us to feel alone and isolated from the world.

FEELINGS OF LONELINESS have become more prevalent during the pandemic, and those feelings are exacerbated by the dark winter months. Those feelings are NORMAL.

Light Your Mind

How do we manage these feelings while in a pandemic? Here are 5 suggestions:

1. Create a Routine

Creating a routine in the morning and before bed can help you manage feelings of anxiety, sadness and loneliness by feeling like you have control of your environment and reducing the amount of time to complete these tasks.

2. Spend Time Outdoors

Spend 30 minutes to 1 hour outside, no matter how cold it is out. (Maybe spend a little less time if the temperate with wind chill factor dips below -10 Fahrenheit.) Do your best to get yourself some fresh air!

With remote education and work, it’s very easy to forget to spend time outside. Set an alarm to remind yourself to bundle up and head out the door.

3. Engage in Physical Activity

Be sure to get some physical activity in your day. This releases important chemicals in your brain that help you to feel happier and to regulate your emotions.

I recommend at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. With remote education and work, it’s very easy to forget to spend time outside. Set an alarm to remind yourself to bundle up and head out the door.

4. Communicate with Loved Ones

Calling or spending just a little bit of time those you care about is one of the best ways to not feel so lonely or isolated. Spending time in-person has the best results, but using electronic means such as Zoom or Skype is also helpful.

5. Practice Self-care

Checking in with yourself. Asking yourself, “What does my body need?” “How am I feeling?” “What thoughts are going through my head.”

Then, doing something to help yourself to feel more at peace and relaxed. Focusing on the needs of your body, and its basic necessities helps us stay positive. We are not taking care of ourselves, we begin to think negative thoughts and feel fatigued. In this situation, we are at risk of falling into depression.

Schedule 20 to 30 minutes daily for self-care. This will help you to better manage your feelings, and to improve your overall self-awareness and mental health.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Ammirati Counseling to ask and inquire about support services that you can receive to help with overcoming feelings of depression, loneliness, stress or anxiety.

Ammirati Counseling is a boutique counseling group with offices in Bannockburn and Downers Grovers. Therapists also offer private therapy via remote online. They provide comprehensive care to children, teens, adults, couples, families, and the LBGT community.
Leanna Alonso