Surviving and Thriving This Winter: Mental Health Tips From the Belmont Wellness Coalition

Surviving and Thriving This Winter: Mental Health Tips From the Belmont Wellness Coalition

By Lisa Gibalerio

Prevention Specialist and Belmont Wellness Coalition Coordinator

Winters can be tough, for both students and their families. The excitement of the holidays is over and the freezing cold and darkness has set in. It’s a season of transition and high stress for many youth as they return to school after a long holiday break and transition back to a packed schedule of sports and studies.

While adults and children may be tempted to pull the covers over their heads, it’s important to keep your mind and body active.

The Belmont Wellness Coalition (BWC) offers these strategies to weather the season:

  • Start a wellness tradition such as Self Care Sundays. Family members can come up with ways to relax, such as setting aside “reading for pleasure” time, playing board games or taking walks together. We are fortunate to live in a region with conservation areas such as Rock Meadow and the Mass Audubon Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary – as well as many more beautiful nature sanctuaries and walking/hiking trails that are accessible all year.
  • Commit to doing something physical outside each day, such as skiing, ice skating, walking (even walking to and from school, or borrowing a neighbor’s dog to walk around the block), running or hiking. Check Boston for a list of free fitness events in Boston.
  • Get lost in a good book. The Belmont Public Library and many libraries in the MetroWest region offer great online and in-person resources to help you find books to match your interests.
  • Volunteer! The Belmont Food Pantry is a convenient local option. For a full list of food pantries in Massachusetts click here or ask friends, religious and community leaders and teachers where they volunteer and offer to join them.
  • Learn a new skill! Cook a new recipe, learn a new language (there are free websites, such as Duolingo), pick up a new sport, or craft, knit, learn bridge, pull out the scrabble board, etc.
  • Get in touch (in person!) with friends or family you may have lost contact with. It will brighten both your days to re-connect over a warm cup of coffee or tea.
  • Change it up! Organize your house Marie Kondo style or re-arrange a room to improve feng shui. Switch up your personal style with a new hairstyle or accessory like fashionable glasses.
  • Create a “stress relief station” in a central location in your home. It can be as simple as designating a quiet, screen-free area or creating a creative space where family members use markers, crayons, paint or colored pencils to flex the right side of your brain. It will be fun to see what family members do with the materials!
  • Attend a concert, performance or art event – there are many free and low-cost opportunities in Belmont and beyond, and you will be amazed at the talent of our youth. The Belmont school concert schedule is at Many of Boston’s top cultural venues offer free tours and drop-in activities on specific days and times such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
  • Eat dinner as a family or with friends at least a few times a week. It’s OK to ask guest to bring a dish and make it a potluck. Share stories about your day or the food you are serving. Studies show there are many benefits of family meals including boosting children’s self esteem.

What are some other ways your family keeps active and healthy in the winter? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected] or posting on our Facebook page

The BWC, a program of Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, works to prevent and reduce youth substance use through evidence-based education and prevention efforts. Through a committed cross-section of Belmont parents, youth, school, town and community representatives, the coalition’s goal is to promote healthy choices and positive decision-making. If you would like to learn more about the BWC, call Lisa Gibalerio at 617-284-2649 or check our website (coming soon!) for updates and information.



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