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  • Writer's pictureSkye White

The Ant and the Grasshopper — Mentally Preparing for Navigating COVID-19 in Colder Weather

The Ant works hard all summer to stockpile food for the winter while the Grasshopper spends the summer hopping around and chirping. When winter comes, the Ant has enough food to last the season whereas the Grasshopper does not. This well-known fable warns us to prepare for difficult times ahead.

During the warm weather, it’s easier to practice social distancing and to make sure you’re getting exercise. Our moods are generally better in the summer as well. We’re in it for the long haul with COVID-19 and we don’t know what the future holds. How will quarantine look different when it’s cold outside? Beginning to think now about how to maintain your mental and emotional health when winter comes will ensure an easier transition and leave you more in the position of the Ant than the Grasshopper.

Although there is no “one size fits all” for mental health, there are a few basic foundations for good mental and emotional health. Some of these foundations include social interaction (yes, even if you’re an introvert), exercise, and a good sleep routine.

Social Interaction

Humans are social by nature. Even if you identify as an introvert, you still need interaction with other people. Social isolation and loneliness have been shown to be linked to a myriad of detrimental physical, mental, and cognitive outcomes. Summer and fall are great times to take advantage of the good weather and go on a socially distanced walk or have a picnic with friends. But what about when it starts to get too cold? What are some other options for getting in your social interaction?

Technology remains the safest way to interact with others in a socially distanced way. There are endless apps and free platforms available across all devices. Some options for simple video chat include Facebook messenger, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Skype. If you’re looking for activities with loved ones, try Houseparty, the Netflix party extension, Airtime, or Watch2gether. Other fun apps include Marco Polo, Snapchat, and Draw Something, among many others. However, if technology is daunting, a simple phone call will also go a long way. Scheduling regular times to chat with loved ones will keep you all accountable to avoid self-isolating and also create a routine.

It may also be a good time to start discussions with your family and loved ones about how the holidays will look this year and planning ahead to keep your vulnerable loved ones safe.


Among many other benefits, physical activity decreases stress and anxiety, improves mood both temporarily and in the long term, and increases self-esteem. Exercise is important to our mental health. It’s easy to stay active when the weather is warm, but staying active when it’s cold, particularly if you’re unable to go to a gym, is more difficult. Staying physically active in winter might include buying exercise equipment, which is something you can begin researching and budgeting for now. It also might include fitness classes. There are free online videos of all kinds on YouTube, but it may also be worth it to invest in a class. A class through a local gym, yoga studio, college, or senior center may also serve a dual purpose of socialization. Additionally, if you’re new to exercising on your own, having some guidance could prevent injury.

Sleep routine

Sleep affects our overall physical and mental health. Getting enough sleep has positive effects on your mood, energy levels, memory, and stress levels. Getting too little sleep, among other negative effects, can exacerbate existing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This is particularly important in the winter months, when Seasonal affective disorder is common.

Developing a healthy sleep routine can help with improving your quality of sleep. Some things to consider are sticking to a sleep schedule of getting ready for bed, going to bed, and waking up at the same times every day. You may consider practicing a bedtime ritual which might include turning off or putting away electronics an hour before you plan to go to bed, meditating or doing other relaxation exercises, or writing a to do list for the following day so you don’t lie awake thinking about it. Dimming lights and turning down the heat in the house before bed also help to cue our bodies that it’s time to sleep.

Seeking Support

Winter can be a difficult season for many people even in the best of times. Seasonal affective disorder is real and common, and holidays can also be an emotional time for many. Planning ahead about how to care for yourself can help mitigate some of these factors. Seeking counseling for ongoing support is a valid option any time of year. Many therapists offer therapy via video calls. Telehealth is a safe, effective way to access ongoing mental health support and is covered by most insurance companies. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Catalyst Counseling to schedule an appointment.

Starting to plan ahead now for how to best take care of your mental health in the winter during a pandemic will help make sure that you’re in the position of the well-prepared Ant, as opposed to the Grasshopper. Take some time to consider some of the above options and what will work best for you.

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