Healthy Practices for Battling the Winter Doldrums

After the festivity and hoopla of the holiday season has ended and as the excitement of a new year fades, many older adults find themselves feeling low or experiencing the “winter doldrums.” These doldrums might generate feelings of isolation and loneliness, but this experience is actually quite common and shared by many during this time of year. According to the Mayo Clinic, Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called seasonal depression or “the winter doldrums,” is an actual experience. And seniors are especially susceptible to winter depression, as they tend to have less contact with other people during the winter months.

By the Mayo Clinic’s definition, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. It is a full-fledged type of depression that displays a recurring seasonal pattern. In more severe cases, treatments can be applied individually or collectively including medication, light therapy, psychotherapy, and Vitamin D.

Fortunately, in less severe instances, individuals can make some simple lifestyle changes that can go a long way to lessening these winter blues. Maximizing your exposure to natural light can have a huge impact, even when the weather makes it difficult to get outside. Opening curtains and blinds to allow in more natural light, moving your bed or favorite reading chair closer to a window, adding bright colors to your decor and even caring for indoor plants can help. Adding physical exercise is a good remedy, along with eating a well-balanced diet, which helps to combat vitamin D deficiency. And when the weather does permit, take advantage of our outdoor sitting areas and walking trails.

Having a special event or activity to look forward to can also help the winter blues. Givens Estates offers a variety of clubs and coordinates many social events, from weekly card games to weekend trips to local attractions.
Being social is another great way to make it through the winter weeks. Participating in a community service activity allows you to be out among people with similar interests and promotes feelings of productivity and accomplishment. Giving back always feels good!

If the winter blues are leaving you feeling down, know that you are not alone and that our community has services and programming designed to help. If you would like more information on Givens Estate’s life enrichment activities, please contact our Programming Department at 828-271-6935.