The days are getting shorter and colder. Overcast skies combined with late sunrises and early sunsets makes for short gloomy days. For many this can bring on seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression which lasts throughout the winter months. While it can occur at other times of the year, most are affected when there is less sunlight.
What can seniors do to help with winter depression?
- If possible, spend some time outside on sunny days. Sunny days during the winter also tend to be the colder days, so dress warmly and don’t stay out for too long. 15 minutes is long enough and being in the sun will help to lift your mood. Even sitting by a sunny window can help improve your spirits.
- Some seniors use light therapy to help with their depression. “Light boxes” can mimic the light from the sun. A half hour a day spent using a light box can help with seasonal depression.
- Increase the amount that you exercise. Movement can improve your mindset and lower anxiety and depression. Many seniors “walk the mall”. Walking through a mall can give you plenty of exercise each day and you can always meet friends for a cup of coffee when you’re finished!
- Increase your amount of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. Take supplements or add more through your diet. Eat more vegetables and fruit since a healthy diet helps you to maintain a healthy mind.
- Try to get out more or have family and friends over. Spend a day at the library or go to a concert. Listening to uplifting music can help, so try to keep a large selection of music at home for days when you feel down.
Winter depression is quite common. Just remember, winter doesn’t last forever. Borrow a page from the Danes and practice hygge. Click here to read more on winter depression in the elderly.