Winter in Michigan can be long, lonely and cold. At American House Senior Living Community, we understand there are several months of the year when the sun doesn’t shine brightly – or at all – and snow is falling and the doldrums set in. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can impact anyone of any age, but in some cases, older adults are more negatively affected because they may be isolated in the winter months. We have put together a list of 7 ways seniors can beat the winter blues that you or your loved ones may find helpful.

American House Senior Living Communities have life enrichment directors on staff, and they plan activities, exercise classes, events, themed dinners and bus trips to help ease the feeling of being shut in. Staying active and involved goes a long way toward beating the winter blues, even if you or your loved one lives alone.

7 Ways Seniors Can Beat The Winter Blues

Before we get into how to beat the winter blues, we want to share some of the symptoms of SAD and feeling “down.”

  1. The most obvious is feeling sad or depressed.
  2. Your energy is low.
  3. You don’t want to be with or talk with friends and family.
  4. You overindulge in unhealthy foods OR you have a lack of appetite.
  5. You feel apathetic and have no motivation to get involved in activities you once enjoyed.
  6. You’re sleeping more than usual, and you may wake up still feeling tired.

Here are some easy – and fun – ways to make it through winter and find ways to cope with the long, gray snowy days. Remember, you don’t have to wait until spring to feel better! We think you will like these 7 ways seniors can beat the winter blues.

  1. Eat a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, and try to avoid carbohydrate-heavy foods or sugar-filled treats. Ask your doctor whether supplements can help round out your diet to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy.
  2. Turn on the lights! One of the main reasons people suffer from depression in the winter is the lack of sunlight. You can buy a light that simulates sunshine and casts a bright enough light to help lift your mood. You may want to talk with your medical professional about whether you’d benefit from light therapy.
  3. Take comfort in being comfortable. Cozy, warm blankets, thick socks, sitting in front of a fireplace and sipping a warm drink will all work together to take the chill off the day. Being cozy is a mood booster, and it might make sense to invest in blankets, clothing and other items that make you feel wrapped in comfort.
  4. Get up and get moving. This may seem counterintuitive to being comfortable and cozy, but throughout the day you can alternate from sitting and relaxing to getting physical activity. If the weather doesn’t cooperate to let you get outdoors and take a walk, just take a walk inside your home. Walk in place, walk around your home, do stretches or practice chair yoga. When you’re being physically active, you are boosting your serotonin (feel-good hormone) levels and boosting your mood. Additionally, staying active will go a long way in helping you stay healthy. At our American House communities, we offer a variety of exercises suitable for older adults and even those with limited range of motion.
  5. This may be harder for seniors who live alone and don’t want to venture out into the cold and snow, but you can still “socialize” by calling a friend or family member. Go online and do a video chat with a loved one. If you live in a senior living community in Michigan, eat your meals in the dining room with your friends, participate in various on-site and off-site activities and spend time with your American House neighbors.
  6. Learn something new. Have you always wanted to learn to knit or crochet? Do you love an evening with friends putting together a puzzle or playing cards or bingo? Maybe you want to learn a new language or learn to write a story. If you’re housebound, there is no time like now to take a class, spend time with your friends, learn something new or take up a hobby.
  7. Practice gratitude. There are days when it may seem as though there is nothing to feel happy about or look forward to, but if you take a little time to think about it, you may just find something to be grateful for. Perhaps you had a wonderful talk with a friend. Maybe you enjoyed a delicious dinner. If you spent a couple of hours watching your favorite movie in your favorite comfortable place and it brought a smile to your face, write it down. You might have played a rousing game of balloon volleyball with your friends at your American House Senior Living Community and your team won! Get into the habit of writing down a few things that you’re grateful for every day and when you’re feeling down, read them. They just might put a smile on your face and even motivate you to do more of what made you happy. You don’t have to have major life changes in order to be grateful. Some days it’s the smallest things that bring the biggest glimmer of happiness.

A bonus tip for beating the winter blues is to plant some greenery. Buy a plant and nurture it. Plant some seeds and grow herbs on your windowsill. If you don’t have a green thumb, consider getting a few succulents – they are very hardy and still add a pop of nature and greenery to a gray wintery day.

If you try some of the strategies and you’re still not feeling yourself, make sure you reach out to a loved one or your doctor and talk with them. Winters may be long, but you don’t have to feel alone or lonely.

American House was founded in 1979 to enrich the lives of seniors and their loved ones in an environment that fosters independence, compassion, quality services and meaningful relationships. We provide a wide range of senior living options, including independent living, independent living with assistance, memory care services provided by a third party, respite stays and hospice in Dearborn Heights, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Sterling Heights and Westland.