“The Winter Blues” can lead to a lack of motivation, trouble sleeping, and increased sadness, but is distinct from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a mental health disorder that may require professional treatment. Seniors may be especially at risk for the “Winter Blues” since many are often more isolated indoors during the colder months. Here are six ways to help beat the winter blues and not only get through the season, but enjoy it.
Bring the Outside In
Although the weather outside may not be as welcoming in the winter as it is during the summer, there are a few ways to bring the feeling of being outdoors into your space. Studies have shown that a sunlight lamp can be beneficial to those with Seasonal Affective Disorder and may also help improve insomnia and disturbed sleep patterns for those in memory care.
A simple, free way to bring nature inside is to listen to nature sounds on YouTube. Go to your youtube app or visit online and search for what you’d like to hear, whether it’s the calming sound of rainfall or the cheerful chirping of birds and frogs.
While spending most of your time indoors, maintaining healthy air quality is essential, as pollutants in the air can worsen in the winter. Not only can indoor plants help to improve air quality, but studies have indicated that they can also support mental and physical well-being and help reduce stress.
If you don’t have a green thumb or you have cats that like to play with your plants a little too often, crack a window for a small amount of time each day, if possible. It brings in the freshness of winter’s crisp air and can help improve your home’s air quality (without having to water plants each week).
Add to Your Routine
It may be tempting to do less during the colder months (hello, Netflix!) but having a more active and social lifestyle can help with depression improve memory, and may lower the risk for dementia.
Starting your day with a bundled-up walk in the morning frost could help to clear your head while helping with circulation.
Explore Winter Hobbies
Instead of dreading the dark, cold months, adopt new hobbies that help you look forward to them each year. Learning new things that challenge you mentally can potentially help improve memory and cognitive skills. Getting involved in winter recreational activities, such as indoor pickleball or shuffleboard, may help you get to know your neighbors while also exercising during the days you have to stay indoors.
For all you nature lovers, learning a new skill like bird watching or photography could help keep your mind active while giving you something exciting to do from your window. Have an eye for design? Try revamping your space to give it a fresh look for the coming months.
Another way to put a smile on your face during the colder months is knowing you’re helping others. Giving back through food or coat drives or cooking for a local charity or shelter could be a great way to get involved in your community and help those in need.
Setting up weekly virtual chats or in-person visits with family and friends, on top of adding new activities to your day, may help boost your immune system and could potentially benefit your mental health.
If you love hosting, invite friends and loved ones over for game nights and get competitive while having fun with table games, such as the engaging dice game Bunco. You could even invite a different neighbor each week for tea to get to know them, so you can both help each other avoid the indoor blues.
Adding a form of self-care to your daily routine may help to maintain your mental health. Self-care can be anything that helps calm your nerves — such as a morning and nightly skin care regimen or 15 minutes of stretching, yoga or meditation.
Since we sometimes don't see the sun as much in the winter, some studies suggest that increasing your Vitamin D intake may help with bone health, fatigue and fighting depression. It may be an important form of self-care, as people over 65 years old could be at risk for lower Vitamin D levels.
Always speak to your healthcare professional first, but you may be able to increase your levels via vitamin supplements or by intake of certain foods. Salmon, sardines and even egg yolks may help your Vitamin D levels throughout the winter months! Try cooking a yummy salmon omelet or this herby mushroom pasta for two on a cold night.
Additionally, aromatherapy with calming scents, such as lavender or jasmine, could help you de-stress or energize for the day, depending on which scent you choose. Put a few drops of an essential oil in a colorful diffuser or your next bath, or spray them in your shower steam. Before using essential oils in a shower or bath or on your skin, be sure to read the label to make sure they are safe for topical use.
Embrace Being Cozy
There’s nothing wrong with getting invested in a book or binging TV. Winter days are perfect for settling on the couch with your favorite blanket and starting a new series. So, grab some snuggly sweatpants and get comfy.
Surprisingly, one of the countries with colder weather has perfected the art of winter coziness. Denmark is one of the world’s happiest countries, and many accredit it to their Hygge lifestyle. It means living a warm, cozy, happy life.
You can start with home decor, investing in soft blankets and string lights while using fireplace sounds as background noise. Then, pick your new favorite pair of fuzzy socks or slippers and begin to relax.
While snuggling on the couch, journaling your thoughts, goals, habits or anything in-between can help boost your self-confidence and inspiration while also helping you unwind. Or maybe you’re a TV person, and you want to settle down and watch a comforting show or movie, like The Crown, Grace and Frankie or Little Women. Need more ideas? Check out this list of senior-friendly must-watch shows.
This winter, find what works best for you, and try to stick to it. Keeping a consistent daily routine can potentially provide many benefits, such as better sleep habits, reduced stress levels and improved health.
For example, waking up at the same hour each day could help your circadian rhythm, which further helps to keep you energized throughout the day. If you have trouble getting a consistent, full night of sleep, try using blackout curtains to keep out any unwanted light or a white noise machine that can be set to play different calming sounds.
Setting alarms for certain times in the morning or afternoon could be an easy way to remind yourself to get some fresh air or start a new activity indoors. If you prefer putting pen to paper, place sticky notes on your mirror or fridge as a reminder to get in some exercise or practice a self-care routine.
Learn to enjoy the winter, not dread it, and invite your friends to join the fun. Read more to learn how you can help others struggling during the winter months, and hopefully, they’ll come over for tea.
The above content is shared for educational and informational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise or fitness program, taking any additional or discontinuing any existing medications, or acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.
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