Winter: Is it over yet?

Want help beating the winter blues? There’s an “App” for that.

Michigan State University Extension works to provide reliable and timely information to the general public. One area of interest is around mental health and wellbeing. Having conversations about mental health and wellbeing is even more important when we are experiencing adverse weather conditions, like winter.

It doesn’t help that the things that normally help people beat the winter blues are not easily available or safe, such as getting out for fresh air, exercising and gathering with friends. All of those can be challenging when you are snowed in, the wind chill warnings indicates severe frost bite when exposing skin for only three to five minutes, or the roads are like an ice skating rink. So how do you stay mentally healthy during these trying times?

Good news is we have many other ways to connect these days via social media. In fact, in some ways that might even be healthier, at least physically. You can’t catch the flu or a cold by chatting with someone on social media, or through texting. Keeping in touch with those we care about, who are far away and close, while we are snowed in can help us feel less isolated.

In addition to social media sites, along with everything else, there are apps that are designed to boost your mood, track your moods and emotions, help you track your happy habits, journal thoughts and feelings, send you positive thoughts and even track your heart beat. In fact, many psychologist and therapists are using apps as a way to help extend therapy with a patient between visits. As with everything, some of these “Apps” are reliable and relevant, and some are not. Some are free, and some are not. Some are only available on certain devices. And, some are just plain silly.

Dr. Adrian Aquilera, from the University of California Berkeley, has written articles on the evolution of using apps in therapy. If you are interested in doing some research regarding which apps are recommended, you can start by visiting the two recommended sites, Psych Central and the National Alliance for Mental Health.

If you would like more information on staying mentally healthy you can visit MentalHealth.Gov. This is a good resource for information about mental health, how to talk about mental health, mental illness and how to find help for you or your loved ones.

Finally, there are many articles on the MSU Extension website on the topic of mental health and wellbeing that can help you beat the winter blues in a way that makes sense to you. Browse a few articles, try out a few free apps and hold on, spring will be here eventually.

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