Loneliness in winter

Aoife Horan

As the temperature changes, nights become longer, mornings darker, some can tend towards falling into a slump. With the inevitable return home to respective counties, not long after the rush of being home and seeing family comes the feeling of sadness when you realise you won’t be seeing your friends until exams happen in January and the loneliness appears.

For some, the return to home may not be welcoming either and that’s also something worth bearing in mind. Beating this can seem impossible, for many Christmas is not the most wonderful time of year and despite best intentions, keeping a facade of yuletide joy is near impossible at times. With all of these factors in mind, these are a few ways to keep your mood up and subside the isolation that appears in winter months.

Sleep regulation is something that is so important to keep on top of during winter time. If you thought your pattern of nights out and early mornings during semester were rough, now is your time to get on top of things. Set alarms and get to bed early, this will help to regulate your mood and bring you up if you feel nothing else will. Make evenings a ritual of snuggling up with a good book, a face mask and going tech-free for the evening, which leads on to the next point;

Books!  Books can be some of the best friends you could ever have. Getting lost in a piece of fiction can be the most gratifying, enjoyable and easy way to spend your time. If you feel far too busy to take the time to read nowadays, it’s time to tap into those D.E.A.R time skills you picked up as a kid and drop everything and pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Books also can lead you to an array of online forums and help you meet like-minded people with similar interests, Goodreads is a wonderful online community of bookworms who review and discuss different novels and it can be a great starting point in figuring out what book you want to spend your time with.

Bringing us to time, when heading off for the winter break, the amount of time that frees up (which should be spent studying for those winter exams) melds into a period of procrastination and one major way to beat that is by making plans and sticking to them. Those friends who’ve all ran off to college in their respective counties as soon as September hit, those work colleagues from who you haven’t seen since the summertime, that one friend who you make half plans with but never pull through, now is the perfect opportunity to make time for these people. Reconnect with your respective social groups and see who’s up for a catch-up, even if it’s been a while, bite the bullet and send them a message, make a definitive plan and promise yourself not to flake. Seeing these people will bring you such a sense of comfort during these darker months and despite the ice outside getting out is worth it for your head.

Make the effort to commit yourself to two to three hours outside every day when you’re at home during the break, invest in some thermal clothes if needs be, but make sure you leave the house. There’s nothing worse than sitting on your computer of an evening and realising this is your third or fourth day of doing the same thing and not leaving the house. It happens, the weather makes it easy to excuse yourself from the outside world but getting out into the open air makes a world of a difference to the head, whether done alone, with a friend or a family pet as a companion. Evening strolls are a grade A mood booster when it comes to feeling low and are something everyone does with implementing during the colder months, they help regulate sleeping patterns and give even the laziest among us our 30 minutes of exercise.

Remember to spend as little or as much time with your family over the holidays as you need. For a lot of people Christmas can be a rough time due to familial relations and for this alone, let it be said that you are not obliged to spend entire days and weeks with your family if it is emotionally draining and hurtful for you. Know when it’s okay to allow yourself out of a situation and if you are someone in an unsafe or uncomfortable home environment do your best to organise spending as little time in the home as possible

Keep in touch with your college mates, despite how easy it is to get wrapped up in the world of DCU during semester time, when everyone leaves for winter it is as easy to forget to check in with your friends there until exams. If you’re feeling lonely and missing faces, organise a group call on messenger with your friend group to catch up with each other and dedicate time to checking in on those who you’ve spent the past 12 weeks or so running into every day, chances are if you’re feeling lonely they are too.

Lastly, remember to check in with elderly relatives, family and friends; as we all know winter is a very difficult time for those people in your life and checking in and having a cup of tea and a chat with the older people who live around you can be a wonderful way of brightening someone’s day and bringing some light to what can be for a lot of them the loneliest time of all. What better way to alleviate your own loneliness and low mood than to spend time with the most vulnerable around us and lift their spirits too?

Aoife Horan

Image Credit: Daily Star