The role of a caregiver can be both rewarding and challenging.
As a caregiver, you are likely responsible for the emotional support of your senior loved one, in addition to their physical care.
Supporting another person’s emotional and mental health can become problematic during the colder months, especially when the winter blues target you.
The winter blues can affect how you care for your senior loved one. While winter blues may not be as severe as seasonal affective disorder, it can still make it difficult to complete daily tasks and responsibilities.
During the fall and winter months, take extra care of yourself to ensure that your mental and physical well-being remains at their highest levels.
Caring for yourself will not only help you function more efficiently and maintain your peace of mind but will make you a better caregiver for your loved one.
Winter blues versus seasonal affective disorder
As the days shorten and it gets darker and more gloomy outside, many people feel sad, isolated, and tired.
It is relatively common for the weather to impact moods and emotions. With less sunlight, the body lacks the proper vitamin d levels, a vitamin that is essential to happiness. However, what is not normal is being stuck in a depression for an extended period.
With winter blues, you or your senior loved one may feel more tired, less sociable, lonely, and have difficulties sleeping. The symptoms are mild when compared to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
SAD is a type of depression influenced by weather changes but much more severe than your typical winter blues. If you or your loved one are having symptoms of SAD you will want to seek mental medical attention.
Knowing the difference between winter blues and seasonal affective disorder can help you or your senior loved one get to feeling better. This may mean implementing lifestyle changes and a self-care routine or pursuing professional help.
- Sadness during the winter months
- Lack of motivation, but you can still handle responsibilities
- Less sociable
- Spending a couple of days in bed
Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Depressed most of the day, every day
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Overeating, especially carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Isolating from friends and family
- Suicidal thoughts
How can I beat the winter blues?
While the winter blues can make you feel miserable, you can do many things to manage symptoms and boost your mood.
Seek Out The Sun
Sun exposure enhances serotonin levels, increases melatonin production, and stabilizes circadian rhythm.
On the sunnier days, or when there is natural light, go outside for ten minutes, or sit by a window.
A light therapy box can be beneficial since getting sunlight during the winter is difficult.
Light boxes emit around 10,000 lux of fluorescent light, mimicking outdoor light. For the best results, you should use them upon waking up in the morning and before going to bed at night.
Boost Your Mood With Food
Maintaining a healthy diet can help increase your and your loved one’s mood while helping fight off depression.
Try eating foods rich in protein and vitamin d such as fish, eggs, dairy or soy milk, yogurt, mushrooms, cheese, and beef.
Do Some Physical Activity
Physical activity releases endorphins, which are known to improve mood and well-being.
Exercising outdoors will help your body soak up some natural light, but even exercising indoors has advantages. Strive for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, to maintain an enjoyable mood and improve sleep.
Try The 10x10x10 Plan
If it is difficult for you to walk or exercise 30 minutes a day, it may make it easier to break up your time.
This could mean exercising 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, and 10 minutes in the evening.
Keep Up Your Sleep Routine
Stabilizing your internal clock by sticking to a regular sleep/wake routine can help you feel better throughout the day.
Sleep plays a significant role in moods and emotions, as a lack of sleep can disrupt circadian patterns and interrupt cortisol levels.
Call your support system
Having a great support system can help promote mental health, make you feel connected, and overcome loneliness and isolation.
Social media can help you stay connected with your friends and family, but speaking on the telephone and setting up physical or virtual meetings with loved ones may be most effective.
When you feel lonely or down, reach out to a friend or family member to see how they are doing too, you both will likely need that human contact.
You can also join support groups and sign up for a new hobby for more human interaction and socialization.
The Kensington White Plains supports seniors and caregivers
At The Kensington White Plains, we are here for you 24/7, and no need is too big or too small.
Our Promise is to love and care for your senior loved one as we would our own family.
Our staff understands that the colder months may be more difficult on you and your senior loved one’s mental and emotional health. This is why we offer support and resources to help you and your family get through even the most challenging times.
Our residents stay socialized and tended for with our high acuity, enhanced assisted living care, engaging life-enrichment activities, exquisite dining services, and comprehensive rehabilitation programs.
Contact us today if you are interested in learning more about our cozy and safe homes and the amenities we offer our residents and their families.