The holidays are officially behind us and winter is in full swing in many parts of the country. With lockdowns also implemented to control the pandemic, many people may be experiencing a case of the winter blues. Whether this be feelings of sadness, fatigue, or loneliness, it is normal to feel off. In fact, approximately 1 in 4 Canadians experience some form of seasonal depression around this time of year. The good news is, there things you can do to help alleviate the winter gloom by improving your physical and mental health.
Learn something new
A new year provides an opportunity to set new goals and try new things. Learning a new language can be an exciting new endeavour that can have several benefits, especially for older adults. It can increase a person's positive feelings about themselves, promote wellbeing, strengthen social cohesion, and improve community and social engagement.
Art is a powerful tool that allows us to express creativity, thoughts, and feelings. It has positive effects on the health and well-being of older adults, including their memory, level of creativity, ability to solve problems, ability to carry out daily activities, and reaction time. Consider dusting off your camera, piano, or picking up some paint brushes or colouring supplies and awaken the inner artist inside of you.
Put pen to paper
Whether it's writing memoirs, poetry, keeping a journal, documenting feelings, or recounting joyful events, writing will allow you to release your emotions and be entertained. Writing can have positive effects on both physical and mental health. It can be helpful in releasing emotions and deep feelings and can also lead people to change behaviours in a positive way by thinking differently about certain situations.
Consider starting a virtual writing group with some family members or friends to challenge yourself to write a little bit every day on a topic that matters to you. Plan a weekly, online meet-up and share your writing with one another.
Play a board game
There are many options when it comes to board games – logic games, numbers-based games, games of strategy, etc. In addition to the joy they bring when playing them, they also have positive effects on knowledge, cognitive functions, physical activity, anxiety, and the severity of Alzheimer's disease (to name just a few). Get out one of your board games to play with members of your household or try a digital version and play with family and friends virtually. It’s a great way to break social isolation and have a bit of fun!
Try Nordic walking
Nordic walking is a type of walking using poles that look like those used in cross country skiing. This form of walking exercise originated in Finland, where it was developed as a summer conditioning program for cross-country skiers but eventually grew in popularity across Europe and North America. It is particularly well-suited to seniors, and research has shown that it provides a better total fitness result relative to regular walking and resistance training in healthy older adults. Just remember to maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from individuals outside of your immediate household while exercising outdoors.
Don’t let the winter blues get you down. Find an activity that is safe and accessible and make it a part of your daily or weekly routine. Maintaining physical and mental health is an important part of healthy aging. To learn more about the benefits of these activities, read our featured resources below.