I am hanging around. I have nothing to do but frown. Rainy days and Mondays (or any day for that matter) always get me down. Truer words may never have been spoken. For me, grey rainy days are the pits. Throw in a winter chill and the prospect of me sliding out from under my down comforter at 5:30am sounds less and less appealing. I am not typically a coffee drinker but at this time of year my morning coffee quickly becomes a necessity if I expect to even pretend to get any meaningful work done.
I am not alone.
The winter blues attempt to rob all of us of our holiday joy and seniors are not exempted from the list. If anything, they find themselves particularly susceptible. But there are steps that can be taken for you and the aging parent in your life so that you can hopefully beat the blues this Christmas.
- Lace up your sneakers.
2. Follow Dave Ramsey's advice.
Money is MAJOR contributor to winter blues. Financial demands around Christmas are taxing on your mind and body. Having a budget doesn't automatically multiply the pennies in your jar but having a handle on exactly where you are allows you to relax a little. So set a budget and stick to it. You still might not be able to afford that new Mercedes with a big red bow on the hood but you will be able to comfort yourself in knowing that the person driving it is probably too stressed out to enjoy it anyway. Tis the season!
3. Put a Salad on the Table.
Nutritious foods feed both our minds and bodies. During the holidays, we tend to pay less attention to what goes into our bodies. A sweater does wonders to conceal a few extra pounds. Between parties and gatherings, fudge and cookies, it is no wonder that Santa's belly jiggles like a bowl full of jelly. The less balanced and nutritious your diet is the more susceptible your mind will be to the ups and DOWNS of the grey winter days. At Thanksgiving dinner this year, I insisted on putting a kale salad on the table. In an effort to be fair to all contributors, I always make sure to include a little (or a lot) of everything in the spread on my plate. Having the salad was a great reminder not to overdo it. Admittedly, I still overdid it but nowhere near as badly as in years past. If you are attending a party in the evening don't count the day as a total nutrition loss. Instead, focus on good choices during the day so that you don't feel guilty for that second helping of sausage balls.
4. Booze It and You'll Blues It.
While alcohol may help us get to sleep it can also prevent us from actually getting restful sleep. I love a glass of single barrel bourbon as much as the next guy provided that the next guy really likes single barrel bourbon but if you aren't careful that holiday cocktail can ruin your next day. In this instance, it isn't about getting drunk and having a hangover. Alcohol can disrupt your body's natural sleep rhythms and prevent you from getting the rest you need. Can you have a second drink without becoming the slob of your office party and xeroxing your own derrier? Probably. Will you feel lousy tomorrow because you didn't get restful sleep? Also probably.
In a senior's life all of these issues are typically magnified. Staying active can be hampered by chronic conditions which are painfully worse during colder months. It is easy for me to lace up my sneakers on a Saturday morning but quite another matter for someone whose arthritis prevents them from being able to tie their shoes. Money woes are hardest to cope with for those on a fixed income. Nutrition is already an issue for most seniors and alcohol abuse/dependency dramatically escalates among the senior population during the Christmas season. For these and other problems there are no easy solutions. However, just being aware of these issues in your own life and the life of your aging parent is a great first step. If you are attempting to fight the winter blues, knowing is half the battle.