NORMAN — The holiday season has passed, special gatherings are over, the decorations are (hopefully) put away, and life has returned to our typical day-to-day pattern. Here are winter wellness tips for adults and all ages, just not seniors. The topic of depression is important, particularly at this time of the year, for gerontological professionals.
Some adults experience a sense of sadness immediately after the busy months of November and December. Frequently, the intense energy that goes into planning and looking forward to all the activities during the holidays can leave one with a feeling of disappointment that “it’s over:, and for many adults, the physical fatigue can be prominent. Post-holiday blues may last a few weeks into January, with the hallmark complaint of feeling sad the holiday season is over.
Older adults can be at particular risk for post-holiday blues for a number of reasons:
Holiday reminders of memories “then” and “now” — separation of families during is difficult, particularly if your home was the gathering place for your family in years past. Memories of loved ones can be particularly acute during this time of year.
Unrealized holiday expectations — significant planning went into family togetherness events. These gatherings can be stressful, particularly if there are family conflicts that arise.
Spending the holidays alone increases the risk of depression.
Feeling sad or down all through the winter months may be a form of depression know as Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) Some typical symptoms experienced include: feeling sad, a lack of restful sleep, feeling tired resulting in less physical activity, social withdrawal and changes in eating patterns that include carbohydrate craving that can increase weight.
Strategies to beat the winter blues
· Talk with someone if you are feeling blue. If you are the type of person that knows you feel down during the winter months each year, tell your family, friends and healthcare provider. Make a plan to stay connected and allow those who care about you to support you wellness.
· Increase your light exposure — Get outside. Natural daylight is best. Alternatively, increase home lighting can help.
· Stay active — Physical and mental exercise during the winter months is key to feeling well. Consider hobbies, reading, crafts, indoor walking options and volunteering. Indoor exercises are readily available using videos/DVDs or light weights. Increasing your activity will give you more energy.
· Healthy eating — The winter months are notorious for seeking comfort foods that may be unhealthy, like chips, crackers or deserts. Try hearty soups, stews or chili as a nutritious option. Avoid too much caffeine as they can actually increase your feeling of fatigue.
· Talk with your healthcare provider — In addition to these strategies, counseling and possible medications might be helpful. It is never normal to feel sad all year long. Many illnesses and medications can cause symptoms of depression. A medical evaluation by your physician is warranted if symptoms persist.
If you would like more information about S.A.D., visit www.mayoclinic.