As COVID-19 cases increase across the United States, many of us are no strangers to social isolation. With social distancing guidelines expected to continue throughout the winter, feelings of sadness, depression and anxiety can creep in as one thinks of another few months stuck indoors. For individuals who suffer from seasonal depression, the COVID-19 pandemic can feel like an added layer of stress to the winter months ahead. However, this board hopes that proper preparation and these self-care tips can ease the transition into the pandemic winter.

Between the uncertainty and rapidly-changing information surrounding the pandemic, it can seem unproductive to plan for activities. However, creating a flexible plan is key to easing some stress you may experience throughout the winter months. If isolation during the holidays is your main concern, ask friends or family members if they are willing to agree to a two-week quarantine before the holidays so you can safely spend time together. If this is not feasible, opt for virtual holiday events, where family and friends can spend time together while adhering to the social distancing guidelines.

While increased screen-time has allowed many to interact with friends and family throughout the pandemic, it is also important to find activities that can reduce the amount of time that you spend on your phone and computer. In the height of the pandemic, letter-writing has made a resurgence. Writing letters are tangible displays of friendship, connection and affection. Especially for individuals who do not have regular access to technology, letter-writing can be a great way to keep in contact with those who aren’t acquainted with typical forms of communication. 

While finding ways to remain active throughout the pandemic winter is challenging, it is not impossible. Investing in proper winter-gear can allow individuals to enjoy the outdoors even as the weather becomes colder outside. Layering on winter-gear and going on a walk with friends around campus, Waltham or your neighborhood is just one example of how one can stay active throughout the winter months. However, this board recognizes that winter gear can present a financial hardship for many students, and would like to offer alternatives to outdoor exercise. Various Brandeis clubs have made the effort to create virtual activities. The Athletics department, for example, has been hosting virtual group exercise classes such as yoga and Zumba throughout the fall semester. Additionally, the Justice put together a working playlist of YouTube workout videos that have helped get us through the last few months.

Even with activities to keep one busy throughout the winter months, feelings of anxiety and depression can make coping through the pandemic winter difficult. Seeking out a mental health professional can help normalize feelings of anxiety and stress and help you come up with healthy coping strategies. The Brandeis Counseling Center continues to remain a resource for students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the BCC offers telehealth for students residing in Massachusetts, as well as virtual one-on-one and group counseling sessions available by appointment. 

For students residing outside of MA or for those who are unable to schedule an appointment with the BCC, there are multiple online therapy platforms available. VeryWell Mind and Healthline have compiled lists that rate these services on different criteria. Additionally, Psychology Today is a website where you can find therapists across the United States and filter by insurance type, therapy type, issues and more. 

While the pandemic winter is a source of anxiety for many, also remember to make the most of the fall season and resources offered on campus. As we will all go our separate ways for a prolonged winter vacation, don’t get so caught up in thinking about the winter that you miss the last few weeks of fall.