Critter Corner: Beating the Winter Blues

sakialley

Dear Saki and Alley,

I get depressed at this time of year, ever since my husband passed away. I had a full house for the holidays and everything seemed great, but now that it is over and the tree and decorations are gone, I am sad. I have physical and financial limitations that keep me in the house. My sister, Elizabeth, visits as much as she can, but my daughters and grandchildren live far away. I feel isolated, and the cold, snowy weather doesn’t help. Do you have any suggestions to help me feel better at this time of year?

Thanks!

Liv Salone

Dear Liv,

Your situation is not uncommon during the cold, winter months. Although the season’s celebrations brought joy and enjoyment, for those who have lost loved ones, memories of holidays past may also bring up feelings of sadness or grief that linger on long after the holidays are over. The colder weather itself can also spur loneliness by making it harder to see family and friends.

Here are some things you can do to defeat loneliness and beat the winter blues:

  • Phone calls: A daily phone call with your daughters, grandchildren, and/or friends can make the world of difference. Skype is also a great way to see them while you chat with them!
  • Internet or apps: Getting online can be a great way to beat isolation, and can be a good source of mental stimulation. Find discussion boards relating to hobbies and passions and you’ll soon be interacting with other people who share their interests. Be sure to be careful on the Internet. For ideas of apps for seniors, please check out our recent blog post.
  • Letter/e-mail writing: Keeping in touch with friends and family by corresponding through email or letters can help break isolation
  • Alternative Therapies: Consider alternative therapeutic options to improve your state of mind. St. John’s Wort, aromatherapy, massage, Reiki, and flower essences may be effective, and some therapists will visit your home.
  • Continuing education: You’re never too old to learn something new! Adult education provides intellectual stimulation, and many classes are available online! You can learn more about technology, study a subject you always wanted to know more about, or learn a new language. Sky’s the limit!
  • Sing along to old records/songs: Take out some of your old records (if you still own a record player) or find your favorite artists on Spotify or Pandora. Singing or simply listening to music can bring back happy memories and help lift your mood!
  • Watch a movie: Turn on the Hallmark channel (or whatever you like to watch) and find a movie that makes you feel good.
  • See your doctor: When depression persists longer than a couple of weeks, you should reach out to a mental health professional. Prolonged depression and the stress it places on the body is a serious matter that requires medical assistance. Your primary physician, a visiting nurse, or a social worker can help recommend a treatment that is right for you. Keep in mind also that some medications you may be taking for something else can add to depression. If you think that might be the case for you, speak with your physician to see if alternative medications could help.

If you have difficulty getting around town, inquire whether community or religious organizations have a transportation assistance program that sends community members into the home. Hosting card games or get-togethers at home can also help alleviate feelings of isolation.

Once you decide what you would enjoy doing, try to make it a routine, giving you something to look forward to each and every week! Hope these ideas are helpful and that you feel happier soon!

Purrs,
Saki and Alley

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