As the days get shorter around the winter solstice, the decreased amount of sunlight hours and colder temperatures tend to make people feel lethargic and more down in spirit. It’s no coincidence that the holidays we celebrate in winter are full of lights. From the menorah of Hanukkah to the advent wreaths of Christmas, candles are a central part of the religious holidays. Add to that all the lights on houses and at public displays, and it’s clear that people have a need to light up the dark days of winter.
Humans long for light, and the lights of the holidays are a prime example. Symbolic candles and fun light displays help boost our spirits during the dark, cold winter months. It’s not unusual for most people to experience a bout of the “winter blues” during the winter, due in part to the decrease in sunlight. But when the sadness starts to affect your daily activities, it might be something more serious, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s estimated that around 20 million senior citizens suffer from SAD, a form of depression that cycles with the seasons.
Some signs and symptoms of SAD include:
· A loss of energy
· Change in appetite
· Change in sleeping habits
· Loss of interest in socializing or participating in regular activities
Combating the Seasonal Blues
Luckily, there are a few good ways to help battle the winter blues and improve your mood during the winter months.
Get more light. Open up the drapes and blinds and let the sunshine into your home and sit by the windows or hang out in the best lit room of your home. You might even consider purchasing a light therapy box.
Go outside. Sure, it’s cold, but didn’t your mom always say a little fresh air is good for you? That cliché holds true even in the coldest winter months. Bundle up in your coat and hat and go for a walk. You’ll benefit not only from getting a little bit of sun but also the exercise will lift your spirits.
Stay connected. If the weather has made it difficult to go out to visit family and friends, either from frigid temperatures or snow, make use of other ways to socialize. One benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many senior citizens learned how to do video chats with loved ones. Log back into Zoom or Facetime and have some virtual visits with those grandchildren again.
Eat foods rich in Vitamin D. Research has shown Vitamin D plays a vital role in physical and mental health, and unfortunately aging bodies have more difficulty converting and absorbing Vitamin D from foods and are less effective at using sunlight to produce Vitamin D. Therefore foods such as liver, salmon and cheeses can help boost those vitamin levels. You could also talk to your doctor about a Vitamin D supplement.
Our talented staff at Piedmont Home Care can be a big help in combating the winter blues. More than just addressing healthcare needs, our caregivers provide companionship that can help alleviate loneliness and boredom during the winter months. Now is the perfect time to seek help with caregiving responsibilities, especially in order to maintain good mental health. And as always, if you feel you or someone you love is experiencing SAD, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider to seek help and treatment.