The winter season can be a challenging time for many people. Colder temperatures and inclement weather can cause us to feel isolated and bored, leading to seasonal depression. This can be more prevalent in our aging adult population who often live alone or have limited interaction with the outside world.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, it’s important to move into the winter with a plan in place to counteract the effects of these “winter blues” so you can not only survive these colder, darker days, but also thrive in this new season. Here are some tips you may wish to try.
Establish a Daily Routine
Contrary to what many think, a routine does not add to the monotony of the day, rather it gives it structure and keeps you from getting stuck in a rut. The key is to map out a daily routine that includes variety and movement. In the winter months, it can be hard to find motivation and opportunities to be active. By establishing a schedule in advance, you can identify such opportunities and see that they take place. You can also schedule a nice rhythm of activity with relaxation and intentional quiet time.
Schedule Out Special Events
While we’re talking about scheduling, you should also schedule out your calendar of upcoming special events, visits, and activities that give you something to look forward to. During December you may have holiday gatherings or family events to attend. Even when your day-to-day routine may feel dull, being able to look ahead to a date on the calendar when there is something special taking place can be the much needed light in the winter darkness.
Look to the Bright Side
Lamps that mimic sunlight are very popular among people who feel the winter blues. Exposing yourself to this type of light therapy every day has been proven to drastically improve Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you or someone you know suffers from SAD (i.e. the winter blues), then this would be a great holiday or “thinking of you” gift to give them.
Call On Friends and Family
Local friends and family are a great resource to help make the winter months a little brighter. Reach out to encourage them to pay your loved one a visit. Having even just one new visitor a week will help add variety to their schedule and give them something to look forward to on a regular basis.
Turn to Technology
When friends and family are not local and cannot make house calls, don’t forget about technology’s power to connect us with one another, no matter how far. Use FaceTime, Skype, Google Chat or Facebook to see and hear your loved one in real time. This adds so much more dimension to a conversation than voice alone.
Hire a Professional Caregiver
And finally, even if you implement all of these other tips, your loved one might also benefit from the care and companionship of a professional caregiver. It may be just a few visits a week to check in on things and to spend some one-on-one time together. Though the winter can be particularly lonely for aging adults, it doesn’t have to be that way. Professional caregivers are an excellent resource to brighten someone’s day and bring joy to the winter.
If you or someone you know struggles with feeling sad or alone during the winter, consider offering them these tips to help them find happiness in this season, and every season!