It’s that time of year again. The holiday parties are over, the decorations are packed away, and the reality of winter is setting in. Snowfall amounts and icy temperatures are a frequent topic of conversation among caregivers and seniors, especially in states that experience all four seasons. Spring seems far away. It’s easy to see how a case of the post-holiday blues can set in.
If you find yourself struggling with a case of the post-holiday blues every year, know that you aren’t alone. Experts say 15% of the population experience feelings of sadness and lethargy during the winter months. About one-third of people are actually diagnosed with depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder severe enough that medical intervention is required.
To help you avoid a post-holiday slump this year, we’ve assembled a list of blues busters for caregivers and seniors.
9 Tips to Help Seniors and Caregivers Beat the Winter Blues
- Stay Connected: Winter weather might make it difficult for older adults and family caregivers in northern climates to get out and about as much as they would like. But there are other options for staying connected to family and friends. Video chat services, like Skype, make it easy to talk face-to-face. Encourage faraway loved ones to text photos to you or send them via email.
- Get Outside: Fresh air and sunshine can boost mood. Even spending 10 minutes outside each day can help prevent the blues. Remember to bundle up and wear boots with a non-skid tread before you head out.
- Eat Well: When you are feeling a little down, it’s easy to reach for carb-heavy, comfort foods. They can further exacerbate the problem and leave you feeling even more lethargic. Instead, make a commitment to eating a well-balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
- Vitamin D Tested: It isn’t uncommon for seniors and caregivers who spend most of their time indoors during the winter to develop a vitamin D deficiency. It can result in depression and muscle pain if untreated. Talk with your primary care physician about being screened for a vitamin D deficiency and the need for supplements.
- Limit Alcohol: While you may be tempted to indulge in a cocktail or two when you are feeling down, it isn’t a great idea. Experts say that overindulging in alcohol can contribute to the blues. This is another topic to discuss with your doctor.
- Lighten Up: When the days are grey, it can be harder to stay upbeat and optimistic. Creating a brighter environment can help. Turn on all the lights and open the curtains and blinds. Consider adding an extra lamp in rooms that seem dark.
- Laugh Medicine: The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” has proven to be true. It’s a great way to lift the spirits and elevate mood. Whether it’s enjoying a comedy at the local movie theater or watching your favorite old sitcom on DVD, make a point of laughing more during the winter months.
- Sleep Matters: The blues can contribute to insomnia which can make you feel even more lethargic and unmotivated. Explore natural remedies for beating insomnia and getting a good night’s rest.
- Daily Exercise: The endorphins released when you exercise are the body’s natural mood elevator. While it might be tough to get motivated to exercise when you are feeling blue, try to workout at least 30 minutes each day. Walking, chair yoga, swimming at a local health club, and Pilates are all exercises that have mental and physical health benefits.
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