Avoiding Winter Isolation

lonely man using mobile device during winter

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It might be easy to hide in your winter cabin when your door is blocked by a foot of snow. However, isolation can become dangerous for people in recovery.  Even in the winter, we still need to reach out to members of our community. Although it might feel like a challenge to make an effort to socialize, there are plenty of options to beat the urge to hide away. Here are some tips to stay connected, even when you might not feel like it.

Contact Your Friends Virtually

Last year, we learned a lot about socializing safely. The use of video chat increased during the pandemic, and many now use it to talk to those far away. You might not feel like driving over to your friend’s house when it’s below freezing, but seeing your friend on your screen might inspire something in you to help fight off isolation. Try planning a group video call. Perhaps make it a weekly activity. This gives you a chance to talk to your friends about your day-to-day and feel less alone.

Get Outdoors

Go outside, get downtown, and be around people. Depending on the particular Covid-19 situation in your area, continue to socially distance and wear a mask indoors even if you are vaccinated. Spending time traveling somewhere instead of staying holed up in your house can do wonders. Try to visit downtown during lunchtime to get that much-needed sun, or visit during the weekend. It’s hard to get out and see people if you work full-time, but taking a little time and getting that fresh air and social interaction can help.

Try Taking a Class

The New Year might have you ready to reinvent yourself, so why not try taking a new class or starting a new hobby? Many courses tend to have discounts at the start of the year due to the influx of people ready to try something new. Taking a class once a week gives you a reason to get out of your house while also meeting new people who share a common interest in one activity.

Look Into Volunteer Opportunities

The holidays aren’t the only time of year where programs need extra help. Taking on volunteer opportunities might help make this winter feel less bleak. Check in with local charities to see how you can help your community. Try volunteering your time at a soup kitchen. Give your weekends to help at an animal shelter. There are plenty of fun ways to spend your free time meeting new people while supporting a great cause.

Make Plans in Advance

It’s easy to put off socializing if you have nothing on your calendar. Last-minute plans might feel extra overwhelming in the winter. You have to bundle up, shovel out the car, and then drive through ice and slush to meet up with your friend. After making it home after work, going out again might be the last thing you want to do. Having future obligations might make spending time with loved ones easier and get that much-needed social time.

Socialize More at Home

If you live with your family, roommates, or even a pet, this might be the time to lean into those connections so long as they are healthy. Sometimes we take our at-home relationships for granted because they are around us the rest of the time when we aren’t out doing things. Use the cold weather to focus on quality time with the people who live with you. This way, you don’t need to leave your house. Planning an outing with a roommate or taking your dog for a walk can give you that much-needed social interaction.

Why Isolation Is Dangerous

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we learned just how valuable social interaction is. Our mental health declined when we couldn’t see our friends and family face-to-face. This had an even more significant effect on those in the mental health and addiction recovery community. We saw a rise in relapses and overdoses during the pandemic as many communities struggled to find ways to support their recovering populations. This led to a devastating loss among members of the addiction recovery community.

Isolation becomes dangerous for addiction recovery because it easily allows for relapse. Many people who had been out of treatment and were recovering or hadn’t entered treatment but suffered from addiction struggled to access necessary resources during the pandemic. It made it difficult to get the help and support they needed. In winter, this becomes even worse when reaching out can prove tricky enough regarding covid restrictions.

This winter, try to remain social while still keeping in mind covid-19 restrictions. Your mental health depends on staying social safely. Humans are social creatures, and we thrive with a healthy support system. Check in with your alumni community to learn how we can remain social together. Avoid isolation by reaching out to loved ones either virtually or safely by respecting CDC guidelines. Don’t be a stranger!

If your isolation is due to a change of mood during the winter season, contact your therapist or healthcare practitioner about possible treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder or ways to mitigate the effects of depression during the colder months.

Check our website for information on alumni activities this winter and any changes due to covid safety measures. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can connect with Jaywalker Lodge this winter or with other alumni, call us today at (866) 529-9255.  

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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