Living in the north, we are all too familiar with the ‘Winter Blues’. This is a seasonal depression that has an actual clinical name: Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately acronymed to SAD). For seniors, or those with limited mobility, the Winter Blues can hit especially hard. Spending too much time indoors, seeing fewer visitors, and a long time to wait after Christmas until the next holiday can all add up to feelings of loneliness and depression. Luckily, the Winter Blues can be prevented or cured without any prescription:
- Eat healthy. An early change in our bodies going into depression is a change in appetite – either a lack of appetite altogether, or cravings for sugary snacks. Avoiding fresh, healthy foods actually exacerbates the issues by reducing cognitive function, and leaving the body feeling sluggish. Try eating homemade vegetable soups, with as many pureed vegetables as you like (can be frozen and stored to last for weeks).
- Call someone. Making human contact is hard when the weather turns – but technology keeps us close year round with phone and Skype. Make plans to regularly catch up with friends and family, even if you can’t see them in person.
- Go outside. It’s not possible every day due to the weather, but when the sun does come out, make sure you have somewhere you can go walk (where the pathways are cleared). Fresh air and sunlight are incredibly important to feeling positive and connected.
- Take Vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements stave off SAD. As they are well researched and proven to be effective, good supplements are easy to find and affordable.
- Light therapy. SAD lamps – or light therapy – is the only clinically proven technique for treating SAD patients. If you are suffering from SAD, or prone to a lack of sunlight in your current situation, SAD lamps are incredibly affordable and easy to find. Many are now desk lamps that you simply need to sit next to for a few hours, while reading, knitting, or whatever you fancy. Both white and blue lights are proven to work equally well (not red or green).