Winter can be a tough season to get through in the UK. Cold, wet and windy weather means that we tend to spend more time indoors. Hibernating in our houses can have a detrimental effect on our mental health, however. We see fewer people, and we do less exercise, which negatively affects our happiness.
Sadly, with the possibility of a Winter in the time of the Coronavirus, more and more of us may need to spend more time in our homes - protecting ourselves and others. So how can we stay social through the Winter, safely? It is essential to learn how so that we can plan in advance, ensuring that we will stay positive through to the end of March. Here, we identify several tactics you can employ to make sure you remain content throughout the long British Winter.
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1. Swot up on technology
We probably realised during the lockdown period that technology was a source of help to us. From online shopping to digital entertainment to video calls, technology and the internet were crucial to us remaining sane within our homes. Bearing this in mind, it can be a good idea to take some time out before the Winter to swot up on how to use any technological tools. Given that these tools can be a lifeline to so many, whether shielding or not, you could reap many rewards in the future if you know well in advance how you can use the tools at your disposal to their very best. Leveraging technology can be key to staying positive. Take time to ensure your internet connection is as good as it should be. Check that you know how Zoom works inside out. Make sure that you have online shopping set up with several supermarkets and other online services like Amazon.
2. Identify safe, sociable places
While the idea of a Winter with a possible lockdown may be daunting to some, we must remember that we have learnt a lot about the Coronavirus since it first wreaked havoc on the world. As a result, we are all starting to learn to acclimatise to the new normal way of living. As a result, it is possible to go out again (for now), so identify places that you can visit whilst feeling safe. Many cafes, shops and garden centres have all implemented extra safety measures to ensure that their clientele remains protected. These are all options for places you can visit to get out of your house, in addition to the more obvious outdoor spaces.
3. Stay active
It is incredibly important to stay as active as you can, even with a much-diminished ability to go out. Investigate online exercise classes that you can either stream directly to your home whenever you want or online classes you can attend ‘live’. The latter will most likely help you remain feeling that little bit more social, but the crucial thing to remember is to practise some form of exercise that gets your heart pumping. In doing so, you not only keep your body that bit healthier; you also help your mental health too. Exercise helps produce endorphins that are the body’s feel-good hormone. After each active session you take part in, you will feel that little bit happier too.
4. Know your risk level
One essential thing to remember before the Winter is to realise how prone you are to infection - Coronavirus or otherwise. Plus, you need to know how badly those infections could affect you. If the likelihood of you being able to fend off infections is high as well as your body being able to fight illnesses effectively, you should be able to socialise more. However, if you have a low immune system or suffer from other health issues that make fighting any infections tough, you probably need to take even more precautions when you do go out. We all know about washing our hands and face masks, but don’t feel shy about asking other people you socialise with to maintain the same standards you do. They will help keep you safe as well.
5. Leverage the internet
Once you have swotted up on web technology and what it can do, you can start to learn how to use it to stay social this Winter. The internet can, without doubt, help you stay connected to people without leaving your house. In doing so, you could start attending an online book club or start any other new hobby through a Zoom meeting, Facebook Live session or all manner of video links to meet with like-minded people. Book clubs are great as reading keeps you busy at other times when you are not socialising, but we can say the same of other time-intensive hobbies. Painting, learning a language or gardening can all keep your hands and mind busy at moments that you cannot be with others.
6. Start a movie bucket list
Of course, there will be times that you cannot meet up with friends outside, online or otherwise. Therefore, you should remember to have a fallback option. This, for so many people, will be the TV. Start a movie or TV series bucket list now. Come up with as many titles as you can of box sets and films that you have never got round to seeing before. This Winter will present an excellent opportunity to get through the entire Sopranos back catalogue or even start Game of Thrones from the very beginning. Remember, too, that institutions like The National Theatre sometimes stream old performances through YouTube so you can still get a bit of culture too.
Staying Social Through The Winter
Many of us are understandably anxious about the thought of a Winter in 2020 or beyond where we cannot socialise as easily. However, identifying that anxiety may be an issue can be a very positive first step to staying positive during the colder, wetter months. You’ll be as best prepared as you can be and have a toolbox of ideas ready for those moments you can feel your mood sinking. Remember, if you do feel low, talk to someone about it. It may have to be over the phone, but it will always help you enormously.