Caring for your Mental Health:
How to Get Through This
COVID-19 Winter


As we struggle through the dark days of winter, with COVID-19 making social connection more difficult, emotional wellbeing is critical. What we do to forge connection, even if it is virtual, and the activities  that we engage in can make a difference in our mental health. 

 

We reached out to our agencies for some ideas of what you can do this winter. 

Niki Bar, director of The Myerberg Center, had this to say: 

1) Rediscover Your Life’s Purpose 

It’s easy to get stuck in daily routines without understanding why we do the things we do each day. The new year presents a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with our life’s purpose and lay the foundation for a meaningful life.   

Living with purpose promotes happiness, which has numerous health benefits. However, not all forms of happiness are alike. Hedonic happiness is brought on by pleasure or fulfilling a goal, whereas eudaimonic happiness is reached through experiences of meaning and purpose.  

It is eudaimonic happiness that has been linked with stronger immune system function, less reactivity to stress, less insulin resistance, higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, better sleep, and brain activity patterns that have been linked to decreased levels of depression.   

Begin by jotting down the things you truly value in your life. Then, develop your own mission and vision statements. Find a safe place to keep your statements and revisit them throughout the year. Check out this offer for one month free to the Myerberg Center to get started.   

2. Learn Something New

The internet provides unlimited opportunities to learn new things. According to writer Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours to master a new skill. Broken down, that’s about three hours a day for nine years!   

John Kaufman, the author of The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast, believes the learning process can be streamlined into 20 hours by breaking down the goal into manageable pieces, starting with only a few resources and then diving right in, eliminating distractions, and committing to your goal, no matter how frustrated you may be.  

Knowledge fuels self-confidence, promotes neuroplasticity or new neural pathways and reduces stress by keeping the mind focused on the tasks at hand. Try the Myerberg’s Virtual Center and enjoy a live history, art of virtual travel experience.

3. Socialize

The pandemic has pushed us further into isolation. A 2019 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed the risk presented by social isolation is similar in scale to obesity, smoking, lack of access to care and physical activity. Furthermore, social isolation increases the risk of premature death.   

Through technology, we can minimize this risk by maintaining a healthy social life. A recent survey by the Myerberg Center showed only 3% of older adults in the community did not have access to the internet, a computer or smart device. With this in mind, the Center shifted their mission to help all older adults stay connected with the launch of their Virtual Senior Center.   

Technology Concierge, Melanie Waxman, provides free technology support to help older adults get started using the technology they already have or recommend affordable devices.  

Here are a few suggestions from Jewish Community Services.  

1. Set up a FaceTime date with someone you miss

Schedule them at nighttime and eat your dinner as if you are in person out at a restaurant!  

2. Volunteer

According to a recent survey, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, individuals who volunteered at least once a month reported better mental health than participants who volunteered infrequently or not at all.  

There are a number of volunteer opportunities to do from your own home. Make a friendly call to someone in the community and spend quality time with a new friend. Or check out volunteer opportunities from Jewish Volunteer Connection that you can do in your home. 

 3. Participate in Programs that Reduce Anxiety. 

One of JCS’ Cabin Fever programs. Choose Calming our Nerves, Lifting our Spirits, interactive sessions where you will learn and practice practical tips and tricks – such as mindfulness exercises – for reducing anxiety and promoting wellbeing. Or check out Creating Calm in the Story and share your concerns and create connections with others who are navigating the complexities of life in today’s world.  

4. Do a puzzle, find a funny movie, try yoga and more.

Check out this list of activities from JCS’ Elizabeth Piper. 


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