With the excitement of the holidays behind us and the decorations packed away, the dreary days of winter are officially here. For some, this time of year comes as a welcomed relief from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but for others, especially elderly loved ones living alone, it can mark the beginning of a long, bleak season spent cooped up indoors.
Winter’s colder temps and shorter days can make it difficult to get motivated and stay active, resulting in lackluster moods, less energy and weakened immune systems. Shake off the “winter blues” and keep your spirits bright with these tips to keep you and your loved ones happy and healthy this season:
- Spend time with friends, family and neighbors: Visiting time isn’t over just because the holidays have passed! Now, more than any other time of the year, you and your loved ones’ spirits can benefit from socializing or an extra hand around the house. Try getting together once a week for lunch or dinner, or schedule a weekend shopping trip or excursion. Help out your neighbor with shoveling the driveway or moving firewood. If you live far away, Skype, Facebook or just a simple phone call are great ways to keep in touch until your next get-together.
- Cold and flu prevention: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting a flu vaccine is your best defense against this nasty bug, especially if you are 65 and older, pregnant or have a chronic health condition, such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease. The CDC also recommends taking preventative measures to stop the spread of germs, including frequent hand-washing and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): When winter rolls around, it’s not uncommon to feel a little down due to shorter, colder and darker days, but when it becomes a recurring trend every fall and winter, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a serious condition characterized by symptoms of depression. Doctors attribute SAD to a lack of natural sunlight and can prescribe light therapy and/or antidepressants to treat your symptoms.
- Inclement weather preparedness: Fortunately, this winter has been unseasonably mild across much of the U.S.; however, it’s still important to be prepared in the event of a severe winter storm or power outage. In addition to bottled water, non-perishables, flashlights and firewood, AARP recently shared a “stay bag” list of storm supplies published in the New York Times that included LED lights, a propane camping stove, a stockpile of gas and a battery-operated radio.
- Adequate apparel and safe driving: If you must be out and about in frigid weather and dangerous driving conditions, be sure to wear plenty of layers, and keep a set of emergency supplies in your car, including a blanket, snacks, water, jumper cables, a flashlight, an ice scraper, flares and a first-aid kit. It’s also a good idea to keep your gas tank at least a quarter of the way full to prevent it from freezing.
Don’t let the “winter blues” get you down this year! Make the most of it, and enjoy this time with family and friends. Before you know it, spring will be here!