10 tips for staying connected with the people you love this winter

Feeling a bit lonely as you huddle inside and away from the cold weather? You might feel like hibernating, but it’s important to stay connected to the people you love. We’ve curated some ideas from our partner Beyond Blue to help you ease feelings of loneliness.

It’s cold outside and maybe all you want to do is hide on the couch in a pile of blankets with a bowl of hot soup.

Some days, it’s lovely to hibernate away from the rain and cooler temperatures, but doing this too much can leave you feeling a bit isolated.

When we connect, we feel better: connection can help you feel happier and more able to cope with life’s challenges. That’s why it’s important to make contact with friends and family this winter.

We checked in with our partner Beyond Blue for some ideas to help you stay connected to the people you love this winter.

1. Surprise! Suggest something spontaneous to a friend

Don’t have any plans locked in? That’s okay—it’s time to be spontaneous.

Feeling like it’s hard to get out in winter is common, so there’s a chance your friends might be feeling as unmotivated as you are. Be proactive and take the first step by texting or calling a friend or family member to organise a time to chat or catch up. Simply reaching out and starting a conversation can make a difference in helping someone feel less alone.

2. Make exercise fun by asking someone to join you

There’s one really good way to warm up this winter: by getting active.

Even if you don’t feel like exercising, chances are you’ll feel better once you’ve moved. Exercise is known to boost your mood and energy levels, as well as help you sleep better at night.

Choose something you enjoy and try exercising with a friend to connect and keep it fun. 

Find out from our partner Beyond Blue the many ways keeping active can help you stay mentally healthy and how to make an activity plan.

3. Do something kind for someone you love

There’s no better feeling than putting a smile on someone else’s face, so think of someone you love and what might cheer them up if they’re feeling a bit lonely this winter.

You might like to drop a meal over to them, take them out for a coffee, have a little gift delivered to them, or write a letter to let them know you’re thinking of them.

4. Practise gratitude together

Being grateful doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s an effective way to boost your mood.

Try starting a gratitude diary to help you look out for the good things in your life, noting down three positive things at the end of each day. To help you stay accountable and to connect with others, you could start a gratitude chat group with friends—you can share the things that are giving you joy and learn about what’s making them feel good.

5. Spend quality time with your pets

Connection doesn’t have to be limited to humans!

The power of pets in boosting our mental wellbeing can’t be underestimated. Stroke one, cuddle one, walk one, brush one, talk to one, or borrow one if you don’t have one of your own.

6. Get out in the great outdoors with others

Nature is known to relax us, lighten our mood and help us appreciate the little things.

Throw on a puffer jacket and meet a friend in the park for a walk and a chat or invite someone over and just kick back with a cup of tea in the backyard. 

7. Turn off the devices for face-to-face time

Switch off the devices and focus on face-to-face time with your loved ones this winter. Go back to basics and have a good old chat together with few distractions.

Beyond Blue explains how a digital detox can have huge benefits on both your mental and physical health.

8. Learn a new skill from someone you know

If things are a little quieter during winter, it could be a great opportunity to try a new skill. This will give you a sense of purpose and have you feeling like you’ve accomplished something you’ve been wanting to do for a while.

Chat to someone you know who has a skill you’re keen to learn. Whether it’s knitting, cooking a great dessert, mastering an amazing yoga pose or hip-hop dancing, ask them to teach you this winter. It’s guaranteed to make you both laugh and feel more connected.

There are also plenty of great videos online if you want to learn something new on your own.

9. Take time to relax together

Connecting with friends and family doesn’t always have to be energetic. If you’re feeling a bit tired and want to relax, it can be good to see if someone wants to join you.

No matter how busy you are, take time out every day to relax—but instead of defaulting to watching the TV, try meaningful relaxation such as meditation, mindfulness and breathing exercises. Or roll out your yoga mat and practise your Downward Dog. 

If you find it difficult to relax, Beyond Blue gives insights into different types of relaxation training and an overview of mindfulness.

10. If you’re feeling down, reach out

If you’re feeling lonely or down, it can be difficult to work out what to do about it. Instead of going further into winter hibernation, try to reach out to someone you trust. That might be a family member, a friend, a work mate, or reaching out to the Beyond Blue support services.

When we connect,