🌟 **Beat Winter Loneliness with Warmth & Community! ❄️🔥**

Rushcliffe Community & Voluntary Service

Published: November, 2023

Elderly lady indoor with friends knitting, happy

 

Stay Warm, Stay Connected: The Link Between Warmth and Winter Loneliness

Winter seems to have a way of making us feel detached and isolated from our community. It’s not uncommon to feel a sense of loneliness as the daylight dwindles to a few hours and the air becomes a lot colder. This can sometimes last for the entire season. Our temperature can have a huge impact on feelings of loneliness, according to an investigation carried out on 78 people. It can also change our desire to make social plans with our friends and family. So, how can we use this connection to ease our feelings of loneliness this upcoming winter? We’ve put together some useful tips to help you stay warm and cosy all season long.

 

Why does winter make us feel lonelier?

Winter usually presents us with fewer opportunities to socialise due to the cold. But, beyond that, our decreased exposure to natural light can also impact our emotional wellbeing, leading to us feeling isolated and alone.

A condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is actually pretty common. It’s a form of depression which is linked to the change in seasons which sets in as daylight hours begin to shorten.

 

The connection between warmth and mental health

When our bodies are nice and warm, our brains trigger the release of oxytocin, which is also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’. This gives us feelings of comfort and contentment, which can help us to feel less alone.

This isn’t the only benefit, regular exposure to warmth can increase our coping mechanisms and resilience, giving us more positive mental wellbeing.

 

Feeling lonely also makes us feel colder

While we now know that feeling cold can intensify feelings of loneliness, research has also shown the reverse to be true. Being lonely can make us feel colder.

 

Isn’t it fascinating how our emotions influence our physical state?

Half of the participants in the study when asked to recall times when they felt lonely or isolated, had a noticeable chill in their body temperature. Most dropped an average of 3 degrees Celsius lower, compared to those who were prompted to remember moments of social connection.

It’s not uncommon to feel colder when feeling left out or excluded from a group. This response is hard-wired into our biology and is designed to protect us from potential danger. Our bodies go into ‘cold’ mode when we’re excluded.

 

How to keep warm this winter:

· Dress appropriately – wearing warm jumpers will help to maintain your body temperature

· Sip on hot drinks – a warm beverage will warm you up from the inside and help to raise your body temperature

· Try yoga – this will create warmth in the body while doing light exercise and increasing circulation.

· Make the most of blankets – wrap them around you while you’re on the sofa or at your desk, it will give you extra insulation

· Spend time with loved ones – being around those you love will give you a feeling of warmth and community

· Eat healthily – choosing foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals will be beneficial for your overall health. By eating healthily you’ll be nourishing your body and helping it to regulate temperature.

· Light candles – trick your body into thinking it’s warmer than it actually is by creating a cosy atmosphere

· Wear thick socks or slippers – keeping your feet warm will heat up your body, invest in a pair of thick socks or fluffy slippers to keep your toes toasty

Not all individuals have the financial means to have their heating on during winter. Consider whether you know any individual who could be struggling to keep warm and offer your support.

 

How to connect with others during winter

For those who find themselves feeling lonely in winter, it can be daunting to seek out ways to connect with others. Even when it’s cold outside, we must prioritise socialising to keep our spirits up.

There are plenty of avenues to explore:

• Join a social club – do something that you love and meet like-minded people

• Look into our Befriending Services – whether you’re looking to volunteer or you’re looking for someone to chat to

• Look into volunteering at the community centre – you’ll be both supporting a good cause and meeting others in the process

• Go for a walk with your neighbour – socialising while walking is one of the best ways to get some fresh air as well as exercise. Winter can be a beautiful time to get out and explore

We’re already beginning to transition into winter with the drop in temperature and shorter daylight hours. It’s completely normal to feel alienation creeping in out of nowhere. The research in this article validates the notion that keeping ourselves warm during this season can be an incredibly powerful antidote to these feelings.

Even though it’s tempting to hibernate when it’s freezing outside, socialising should still be a priority.

At Rushcliffe CVS, we offer services for vulnerable people to ease loneliness and enable them to thrive within the community. We also provide volunteering opportunities for those who want to get involved.

😄 Contact us today: 📞 0115 969 9060 ✉️ volunteer@rushcliffecvs.org.uk

 

❤️ Together We Improve Lives ❤️

 

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