Why it’s important not to isolate yourself this winter

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Photo By: Keon James

Kate Couch/ The Broadside

We are on winter break, for a lot of Oregonians, the break is filled with snowboarding, skiing, hiking, or watching movies with friends. But for others especially with new lock down regulations, it can mean isolating yourself in your room with very little contact with your friends and family. This is extremely dangerous for your health.

In fact, studies by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University found that prolonged social isolation is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and more harmful than obesity.

https://www.midoregon.com/accounts/student.shtml

Social isolation, self-isolation, and seasonal depression are all very serious things that many people fall victim to and don’t even realize. It’s important to take time for yourself this winter to relax and maybe binge-watch a new series on Netflix. But keep in mind, it’s also important to pick up your phone, and call your loved ones, check in on your friends and hang out with people when appropriate.

An article from the Government Administration for Community Living explains how social isolation is more complex than people realize. In fact, you could be going to parties seeing people, and still, be socially isolated. How is this?

Keri Lipperini, director of the Office of Nutrition and Health Promotion Programs, and Administration for Community Living said, “In addition to social isolation being complex; it is not always easy to spot. Just because you live alone, or spend a lot of time alone, doesn’t mean you are socially isolated, and you can be socially isolated even if you have an extroverted personality and appear socially engaged. Social isolation is not about being in a room full of people or having a lot of “friends” on social media, it is about feeling connected.”

The takeaway from this is to not participate in activities just to do them by really making sure you’re taking care of your mental health by making an effort to stay connected to people you love and care about.

In an article from Weiser Care Services, They recommend a few things you can do to make sure that you’re not isolating yourself this winter. Things like making sure you have transportation whether that’s public transportation, personal, or physical transportation (walking, riding a bike), or getting rides from a friend, it’s important to make the effort to set these things up so you don’t have an excuse to constantly be inside.

Make sure you’re not staying inside all the time; we live in the Great Outdoors in Central Oregon and there are so many safe things in nature you can do, even during the lock down. The article from Weiser Care Services goes on to talk about how it is important to make a schedule and set aside a specific time to hang out with friends or family.

The Jed Foundation has an entire website dedicated to helping people live healthy mental health lives. If you are worried about a loved one or somebody you know this winter, you can turn to their website to look for ideas on how you can best help them or yourself. With winter break wrapping up in about a week and the looming winter term turns the corner it’s important to stay active, motivated, healthy and happy. Happy New Year and new term from The Broadside!

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