As beautiful as winter in Chicago can be, there’s no denying the effect that frigid temperatures and dreary skies have on our mood. If the winter months bring about a state of depression each year, however, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be to blame, or a milder form of it.
Luckily, there are several ways seniors can beat the winter blues.
Get outside. Convincing yourself to bundle up to brave the elements during the winter can be a tall order, but a simple walk yields tremendous benefits. Time outside leads to improved focus, lower stress levels and milder symptoms of SAD.
Plan a trip. Your immediate surroundings may be chilly, but dreaming of warmer, sunnier days is a strong way to beat the winter blues. In fact, even simply planning a vacation – not even going on one – leads to greater happiness, according to research.
Schedule a workout. It may be difficult to motivate yourself, but exercise is consistently proven to boost mood and combat depression. Working out regularly, especially as the temperatures drop, is crucial.
Watch what you eat. A healthy diet goes a long way to improving your mood. Consuming too much candy and excessive carbohydrates, for example, may provide instant feelings of joy, but they’re only temporary. Pay close attention to how certain foods make you feel, both in the short term and in the long run.
Volunteer: Boost your mental health and give yourself a sense of purpose by volunteering during the winter months.
Experiment with light therapy. Nothing improves mood quite like the sun, but light therapy boxes that imitate sunshine have been proven to stimulate circadian rhythms and help with SAD.
Consider consulting a medical professional. Speaking with a mental health professional is an excellent way to beat the winter blues. Therapy proves quite effective.
Incorporate aromatherapy. Certain essential oils may influence the area of the brain responsible for controlling your mood, as well as the body’s internal clock that dictates appetite and sleep. One study found that essential oils from poplar trees were particularly beneficial with depressive disorders.
Keep a journal. Writing can be cathartic, as getting negative feelings out of your system can positively affect your mood.