Active senior coupleThe holiday season is almost over. Soon the seemingly endless round of shopping, singing carols, and visiting with loved ones will turn into memories for next year’s celebration. We look forward to returning to normal life, but January can be the season for winter blues. Fortunately in Phoenix we don’t often have to deal with grey skies and gloomy weather, but we miss the family members who visited and went home; we miss getting together with friends; we swear we’re going to lose weight, but we miss the special foods we ate during the holidays.

For our older friends and relatives, the dreary routine of winter can hit especially hard. If you are a senior, or caregiver for one, it’s easy to consider mood swings and general grumpiness as a normal part of aging, but boredom can occur at any age, and mid-winter is prime time for feeling cut off and alone. The way to combat loneliness and boredom is to engage the heart, body and mind with some wintertime activities.

Try some of these tips:

Get out of the house:

  • Nature has a renewing effect on the human psyche, so go to the park or somewhere with open space, like botanical gardens.
  • Sunlight has a beneficial effect on our brains; if possible, get outside, even if it’s to sit in your own back yard.
  • Ifgoing outside is difficult, bring nature to you – arrange flowers or tend to your houseplants.

Keep physically active:

  • Take walks around the neighborhood or in the mall if the weather is uncooperative.
  • If walking is not an option,try armchair exercises to help maintain blood flow and muscle strength.
  • Many community centers and parks and rec departments offer Tai Chi, Zumba and yoga for seniors.

Keep mentally active:

  • Read a good book, or even a bad one.
  • Watch a history show on TV.
  • Discuss something important to you with a friend.
  • Do a crossword or jigsaw puzzle.
  • Take a class – most community colleges and universities offer “life-long learning” at reasonable cost, libraries and community centers offer low-cost or free classes, as well.
  • Learn a new craft or improve your skills with one you already know.

Stay social:

  • Get together with friends and relatives, at home or in a coffee shop or go out for a meal or snack.
  • Host a tea party or a white elephant give-away (or convince a friend to host one, if you aren’t up to it).
  • Volunteer with your church, or at the library, a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. Doing something for someone else always improves your outlook on life.
  • Join a club or organization.
  • Take a class and get to know your classmates and instructor.
  • Join a community choir.
  • Join a knitting, quilting or crocheting group.

Engage your positive emotions:

  • Get out the scrapbook, or create one if you don’t already have one. Memory books are great for those with early Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • Write, dictate, or record your memories to create a memoir – the younger generations in your family will love to learn what life was like in your youth.
  • Laughter is the best medicine – watch a funny movie or TV show, current or classic.

Let us know your ideas for wintertime activities. We’d love to hear how you beat the post-holiday blues.

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