With the Christmas festivities over and the skies still dark and stormy, it’s no surprise that ‘January Blues’ take hold at this time of the year. In fact, January also contains the so-called ‘most depressing day of the year’, otherwise known as ‘Blue Monday’, which falls on the 15th this year! To overcome these feelings, and get back to your best, follow our tips and beat the January blues!
Keep the Mind Active
The chilly weather conditions have probably meant that you can’t make it outside as frequently as you perhaps should. Although your physical activity levels may have fallen behind a little, that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep your mind active. Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are fairly cheap and easy to get hold of and can help to keep the mind sharper. Keeping up with an old hobby, or even starting a new one, such as crocheting or other crafts can also be beneficial. Why not knit yourself a hat and scarf for those days when you want to brave the outdoors? Jigsaw puzzles can also provide hours of entertainment, and if you have friends and family nearby, why not invite them round to help you out with them!
Of course, one of the best ways to beat away the winter blues is to meet up with friends or family. Unfortunately, for many older people this is not an option, as they may be unable to leave the home, or be too far away from their loved ones. If you have internet access, the next best thing can be to have a chat with your family or friends via messaging systems, or face-to-face over Skype, or other video calling services. This can be particularly useful if your loved ones live internationally. Not that internet savvy? A quick phone call can be just as good. Alternatively, you can check out the local community offerings for seniors. Many areas will provide entertainment and activities for older people at centres or halls, such as bingo or local interest groups. If you can’t leave the home, then find out about support groups and schemes run by organisations such as AgeUK, which pairs a younger volunteer with an older person. These volunteers can then become companions, who will visit you in your home. There are many local initiatives similar to this.
One of the main contributing factors to feeling ‘blue’ in January is the lack of sunlight. The amount of sunlight we are exposed to during the day impacts on our mood, as the light increases our levels of serotonin. Serotonin is important for the function of mood, memory and sleep, so it is crucial to boost these levels in a healthy way during the darker periods of the year. One very effective way of doing this is to get hold of a special bright lamp used by people with Seasonal Affective Disorder. The light mimics sunlight and can be used to combat the January blues by sitting beside it for around 30 minutes a day, allowing your body to get some much-needed light. If you feel like you could benefit from this type of light therapy, then talk with your doctor about the options available.
During the Christmas period, overindulgence is quite common, what with our Christmas dinners, puddings and pies, as well as all of those big boxes of chocolates and biscuits that you got as presents! Too much sugar can alter your mood and make you feel shaky, while too many carbohydrates will make you feel sluggish. This is bound to contribute to these January blues, so an easy step to take towards feeling better is to give your diet a reboot. Omega-3 fats are great for both brain function and mood, so tucking into some salmon, mackerel or nuts is great; and remember to eat your greens!
Do you have any more tips for beating the January blues? Let us know on our Facebook page! For more advice on healthy living for seniors, be sure to check out the Wise Old Elephant blog.