How Seniors Can Beat the Winter Blues

For many of us, we have a bit of a love/hate relationship when it comes to our home province. Love the summers, hate the mosquitos. Love the change in seasons, hate the shorter hours of daylight (and the frigid temperatures!) in the winter.

While we average a little over eight hours of daylight in December and near the end of January we get past nine, this pales in comparison to June where we get a little over 16 hours of daylight each and every day!

Because of the lack of natural sunlight, many people including seniors often struggle with winter blues. This can include mood shifts, the feeling of depression, lacking energy, being irritable, having a difficult time getting out of bed because it’s still dark outside — basically a shift in daily body rhythms because we’re not exposed to as much sunlight as we are in the summer months. This is also known as seasonal affective disorders or SAD.

“Staying social and maintaining friendships is important at this time of year. Make the extra effort to meet for lunch or coffee, or go for a walk. Get involved with activities at the seniors’ centre or take part in some of the many planned activities at your retirement home,” said Jody Kehler, Senior Living Specialist and Licensed Practical Nurse. “Being around people, socializing is important to help combat the winter blues.”

Although it is cold and dark and you may feel like hibernating like a bear, it’s definitely not a good idea to shut yourself in during the winter months. In fact, seniors need to do the opposite. Even though it’s cold, you should try to get outside even for just a few minutes every day. It’s also important to exercise and maintain some level of physical activity.

If you have a sunny area in your home or if there’s a sunroom in the personal care home or retirement home where you reside be sure to embrace and enjoy the brightest time of the day when the sun rays cast the most light.

It’s also important to eat healthy and maintain a positive attitude. Listening to music that you love will also help to boost your mood.

As we get closer to Blue Monday, which the third Monday in January that is commonly known as the saddest or most depressing day of the year, plan to make it the happiest day of the year.  Fill your calendar with things that you love to do – meet with friends, call your grandkids, eat your favourite foods, dance, get outside, stay healthy!