Advice on looking after your mental health during the winter in the age of Covid

As we move closer to Winter, many people may feel depressed and isolated. This is particularly true this year due to Covid-19. For people with disabilities, the Winter months can affect us in a multitude of ways.

During the Winter season, many PWD stay home. This is due to cold temperatures, but also due to the snow. I haven’t mentioned it here yet, but it isn’t a secret.

When it comes to clearing snow, the City Of Ottawa is horrible, and it seems to be getting worse each year. There have been many times where I wasn’t able to board an OC Transpo bus or even a Para Transpo vehicle due to snow-covered sidewalks.

As I was saying, Winter can be challenging for many of us. This week, I’ll be talking about Mental Health, particularly during the long Winter. Also, I’ll be talking about some of the things that I do to get through it.

Interacting Online:

One of the very few good things about Covid-19 is that there’s a wide range of virtual live shows to choose from. I’ve already seen events listed to talk to Santa, reading Christmas stories, mini-concerts, etc. There seems to be tons of online events happening.

I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas, or even the holidays. Luckily, there’s Zoom and Social Media. Both allow us to keep in touch with loved ones and a great way to meet new people. By now, many of you may have Zoom fatigue, and I get that. During this time of year, and more so with Covid-19, communicating online is a handy tool in feeling less isolated.

Sounds For Your Heart & Mind:

Another big thing for me is music. I always have some type of music playing, especially when I’m writing or talking to others online. Music seems to make everything seem better. It has a way of speaking to me when words can’t. The other great thing is you don’t necessarily need a computer or smartphone to listen to music.

I’m also a big fan of podcasts. Nowadays, there’s a podcast for almost every topic that you can imagine. Everything from true crime, current events, history, ones about tv shows, comedy, and the list goes on & on.

Self Care:

Taking time out for yourself is extremely important. I realize that this may be hard to do for some, especially if you have kids. Also, if you’re physically disabled, you may not be able to do. Here’s a few tips on how you can practice self-care, or maybe even improve it.

  • Meditation & Yoga

I admit that I often have a hard time meditating. My mind tends to get distracted and wander. Also, the fact that many types of meditation involves controlling your breathing. I use a portable ventilator at all times, so I’m unable to change my breathing.

One thing that I’ve noticed, though, is that my ventilator is very rhythmic. When I put my mind to it, I can focus on my machine’s sound and the fact that I’m getting air in a very consistent manner. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes it works for me. There are tons of websites, videos, and even podcasts talking about different meditation techniques. When it comes to Yoga, there are classes specifically designed for people with disabilities. Due to Covid-19, my suggestion is to google “adaptive Yoga” to see videos and get more information.

  •  Reading & Learning

Thanks to technology, reading and learning has never been easier. If you’re like me and aren’t physically able to hold a book, audiobooks and Ebooks can be borrowed online from the Ottawa Public Library. I’ve done this many times, and it has helped me to escape mentally. As far as online learning goes, there are several sites where you sign up and take courses. Some are free, but not all. You can always go on Youtube and search for a topic that you’re interested in. You can even learn how to paint and other forms of creativity to express your thoughts and feelings, which can be very therapeutic.

  • Writing

I find that writing is beneficial for my mental health and expressing myself. A lot of people have a hard time understanding my voice, so, in many ways, writing has almost become a second language for me, especially since the pandemic started.

I am aware that people are reading this who may not be able to write for some reason. I’m genuinely sorry if that’s the case. My best advice to you right now is to try to find an outlet that works for you. If you have a caregiver, or a close friend, maybe ask them to help you if you’re comfortable.

Reaching Out For Help:

If you are struggling and in the Ottawa area, I encourage you to please reach out to The Distress Centre Of Ottawa And Region.

By Phone: 613-238-3311

Crisis Line: 613-722-6914 Or Toll-Free at 1-866-996-0991 (Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week)

By Text: 343-306-5550 — Available every day from 10 p.m. until 11 p.m.


If you go to their website, you’ll be able to chat with one of their volunteers using your computer. The chat feature is also available from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. every day.

Mental health is a subject that’s very close to my heart. Please reach out to someone if you need to.

Photo: Marc-Olivier Jodoin, Unsplash