Avoiding the Winter Blues

How Seniors Can Avoid the Winter and Holiday Blues

The holidays are upon us! A joyful season, but for many, they can be draining or even depressing. Hopefully, these tips can help you enjoy this season. You may also want to reach out to a counselor, friend or family member for support and accountability. This way, you don’t isolate but neither are you overwhelmed with all the things you’ve said yes to.  

Photo by Matt Bennett on Unsplash

Self-care protects you. (Put the oxygen mask on yourself first!)  

  1. Sleep!  
  2. HALT! Avoid getting too Hungry, too Angry, too Lonely or too Tired.  
  3. Keep up your morning and nightly routines: personal hygiene, vitamins, exercise, medications, and chores.  
  4. Foster an attitude of gratitude. 

Be intentional in how you spend your resources.  

  1. Your priorities should be scheduled first!  
  2. Saying yes to one thing means you are saying no to another.  
  3. Be mindful of why you are doing _____________ (you fill in the blank).  
  4. Energy: Remember to recharge! (Introverts usually recharge by spending time alone and extroverts usually recharge when they are with others).  
  5. Money: make a budget.  
  6. Time: use a calendar/planner.  

Pay attention to who and what you are letting in. 

  1. TV shows especially the news, podcasts, movies, books, YouTube. How do you feel after spending your time here?
  2. The more we hear or think about something, the more we believe it. 
  3. Even if you are very introverted, we all need people to do life with and tell us the truth when we need to hearit. 
  4. Healthy relationships allow us to give and receive“no.”  

Photo by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger on Unsplash 

Allow yourself to feel and grieve, but with some healthy limits.  

  1. Let yourself cry—but use a timer. 
  2. Spend time talking about your loved one with friends and family.  
  3. Write a letter to your loved one, especially if you have some regrets or things you feel were left unsaid.  
  4. Tell the funny stories.  
  5. Find a Griefshare.org group.  
  6. Journal about your loss. 
  7. Exercise.  
  8. Pray.  
  9. Spend time with people.  

You can’t control what happens, but you can control your response.  

  1. Develop a Disaster Preparedness Plan.  
  2. Be proactive and prepare what you can in advance by using your calendar and your budget.  
  3. Remember HALT! Sometimes, everything will look better after we’ve taken care of our needs (sleep, food, water, time with people). 
  4. Do what’s easy first: breathing, journaling, music, Scripture, brain dump, talking with a friend/family member, getting to church, praying, hitting golf balls, etc. 

About the Author: 

Jen Wisdom-Schepers, MD moved to East Tennessee from Texas to attend Milligan College in 1989 and fell in love with seasons and the people so has been here ever since.  She is a 2003 Quillen College of Medicine graduate who went on to complete her Psychiatry residency at East Tennessee State University. She has held multiple types of psychiatric positions including inpatient, outpatient, intensive outpatient, and geropsych but has practiced in an Addiction Medicine clinic for nearly a decade now. She enjoys the challenge and the many rewards that come from seeing people get better. In addition, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially her husband and two children. 

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