A person writes a handwritten letter with a pen and paper.
Sending handwritten letters by snail mail is a wonderful way to comfort those who may feel isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

As the chill in the air brings an end to many outdoor gatherings and events, family and friends will no doubt be looking for ways to stay happy and healthy this winter season.

Spectrum Health infectious disease specialist Russell Lampen, DO, and clinical psychologist Lyndsay Volpe-Bertram, PsyD, offer some helpful tips to stay safer during the cold months amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Embrace the cold

Take a walk. Learn to snowshoe or cross-country ski. But continue to maintain social distancing if you’re participating with friends outside of your immediate family. Be sure to dress warm and proceed with caution to avoid injuries.

Get a flu shot

Flu shots are especially critical this year.

Create a fire pit

Take the chill off while continuing to socialize outdoors. Stay at least 6 feet from others and wear a mask.

Think virtual

In warmer months, many of us switched from Zoom happy hours or family gatherings to socially distanced events. It’s time to rethink virtual as the weather forces us indoors.

Community theaters and high schools are hosting virtual events. There are also cooking classes, exercise classes and more. Stay plugged into events that will virtually transport you out of your day-to-day or teach you something new.

Pick your bubble—and stick to it

An occasional dinner with a couple of friends or family members could do wonders for your mental health, particularly if you do it at home in a well-ventilated space, socially distance and wear a mask when you’re not eating or drinking.

Watch the weather

How about lunch outside with a friend on an unseasonably warm day? Just be prepared to postpone or switch to virtual if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.

Get away

If actively participating in winter isn’t your thing, how about spectating? Rent a cozy cottage for a weekend getaway and enjoy the view.

Open the windows

If you can’t bring yourself to fully embrace the season, at least inhale a few minutes of it. Plus, opening the windows will bring some fresh air into your home.

Tackle the indoor project

There are so many projects you can choose. Sort the family pictures. Create a scrapbook. Clean out a closet.

Write a letter

Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a letter in the mail? Connect with someone who may be feeling isolated or lonely.