Getting Through a Long Winter

By now, you are likely tired of being home. We’ve had an unprecedented year with the COVID-19 pandemic that has left us all spending more time at home than we ever have before. Add in the winter weather we’re now experiencing, forcing us inside for long stretches of time, and we’re probably all feeling a little stir-crazy and drained. So what can we do to make this unique winter a little more bearable? Here are a few tips:


Practice the Dutch Secret “Niksen”.

Embrace where you are. This season is a trying one to be sure, but also an opportunity to recognize the good. Take this as an opportunity to slow down and embrace “niksen”, the Dutch concept of doing nothing that can help relieve stress and burnout. As journalist Olga Mecking shared with NBC News in 2019, “With niksen, which most closely translates as ‘nothing-ing’ in Dutch, you have to be intentional about doing nothing...You’re taking the time to sit there and not do anything on purpose. You could be gazing out a window, but you’re not observing your thoughts or letting them go, or doing anything like that. You’re just being.


Take a class.

GetSetup is a digital education platform for older adults, offering 150+ technology and enrichment classes, all taught by retired educators. This is an online place for older adults to hang out, learn, teach, and engage over video helping them live healthier, happier, and more connected lives from the comfort of home. Currently, GetSetup courses are available to Michiganders age 60 and over at no cost. Classes are offered on things like video services to communicate with loved-ones, how to use a smartphone, tablet, or computer, how to do things like ordering groceries or household items, how to access services like telehealth, or if you simply want to take a fun class to socialize and make new friends. Visit to learn more and sign up for your free classes!


Get help if you need it.

If you are struggling during this time, help is available.

  • The COVID-19 Senior Support Service provides additional support for older adults and their family caregivers during this crisis through the delivery of essential items and wellness check phone calls. Contact the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) to get started at (616) 456-5664.
  • Michigan StayWell Counseling is also available. If you are experiencing emotional distress in the context of COVID-19, call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-535-6136 and press “8” to talk to a Michigan Stay Well counselor at no cost.


Try a new activity.

You could be stumped on what to try next, since it feels like you’ve done everything to occupy your time in these slower days. Check out our list of boredom busters with fun activities you can safely do from home while social distancing. This list is broken down into two categories, ideas using "online/technology" and those without, so there is a little something for everyone!


Reach out to a friend.

Socialization is a key component for our wellbeing. Without it, feelings of loneliness and isolation can set in. It is likely you have friends who are feeling lonely as well, so the best thing to do is reach out. One tip-- schedule your check-ins with loved ones- not only as something you can look forward to every few weeks, but to keep you both accountable as well.


Move your body.

Regularly exercising is another great way to boost your mood through the winter months. Though the current coronavirus pandemic has hindered in-person exercise programs, you can still move at home. Some organizations have taken their class offerings virtual! The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is offering Zoom classes to their Healthy Aging participants and there are also a number of online programs available throughout West Michigan. Youtube can also be a great resource for finding free exercise classes at a level that is best for you.


If you are facing challenges during COVID-19, know you are not alone. Here at the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan we have resources available for older adults, persons with a disability, and family caregivers. Give us a call at (616) 456-5664 or email Our Information and Assistance team is on hand to fully understand a person’s unique situation and recommend the best fit of services.