Colder weather, COVID restrictions creating concerns over mental health

Colder and gloomier weather, coupled with new COVID-19 restrictions, are creating concerns over mental health.

It’s especially tough to not be around family and friends during the holidays, but with coronavirus cases surging in Minnesota, that’s what health officials and Gov. Tim Walz have asked Minnesotans to do.

While it’s not the same, bringing a tablet or cellphone to the dinner table for the holidays could make a difference.

"I think a big part of it is focusing on what you can control," Heidi Woodland, a clinical psychologist, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

While there’s not a timeline for how long the pandemic will last, there are other techniques to help you feel in control.

"I encourage people to practice the five-minute rule. So that can be doing something for five minutes, setting a timer on your phone, and ‘OK, I’m going to tackle this task,’ whatever it may be — cleaning, going through my mail, folding my laundry — any sort of activity, I’m going to do this for at least five minutes," Woodland said.

While several vaccines are making progress and could soon be made available in the U.S., health experts say it may take until the middle of 2021 or longer until it can be widely distributed across the country.