Staying in the Light

Published In Blog

If the weather in your neck of the woods is anything like mine, the grey can be depressing. It may be called “sunny California” but in the Sacramento Valley we’ve had weeks of rainy days and the gloom is beginning to set in on all of us. So what’s a body to do, especially when you’re caring for an older loved one who might be prone to depression? You’ve got to get creative!

In the Home

Even though the days are grey, sitting next to a window will give you more light. For your older loved one, just make sure to have a throw in their chair to keep them warm. Windows can be a bit drafty at times. This also gives you a view of the yard, the birds and whoever might be walking by. Seeing a neighbor or waving to the passing school children can brighten any elder’s day. Watching the little birds flying by forces us to look to the sky which is a natural way to fight depression. I have a bird bath in view of my window and I get a kick out of watching the little birds taking turns in the water.

Don’t sit in the dark. Turn lights on where you spend your time. A dark room on a rainy day can intensify the gloom.

In Your Diet

When we don’t get enough light, we need more Vitamin D to keep us healthy. According to WebMD, it can fight osteoporosis, lower you blood pressure, aid your body to absorb nutrients and even reduce your risk of falling by almost 50 percent. It can also reduce pain for sore muscles and if you add in some calcium it  becomes even more beneficial. When you feel better, you’re more active and less likely to become depressed.

Remember to drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is our enemy, especially when we’re heating our homes and drying out the air. I also like to make soup quite often in the wintertime. It’s the perfect way to get your healthy veggies and some extra fluids that are a comforting treat to eat.

Just Outside Your Door

Even if the weather is frightful, do try to get outside for a little while every day. The light is brighter even if it’s cloudy. Going outside just changes our perspective for the better. Take a little walk, or have your morning cup of coffee on the porch. The fresh air is good for us all but do stay bundled up so you don’t catch a chill.

A few years ago, we had months of rain and fog. I’d always wanted a little greenhouse and so my daddy decided it was time he built me one. I’d go out each morning and have my coffee while playing in the dirt. I had been so down before he built it for me but having that intense light even on cloudy or foggy days made all the difference.

In Your Community

Everyone needs to socialize, especially during the winter gloom. Have you checked out your local senior center? Almost every community has one that offers lunch, exercise classes, art classes and best of all — camaraderie! Just getting out and meeting friends for an hour or so can really make your day better. If you’re the caregiver, getting your loved one out can give you a little break, something every caregiver needs.

Walking in the Mall

Malls are great for really wonderful light both natural and electric. Even if you don’t spend a dime, just strolling through the brightly lit walkways can lift your spirits and give you some exercise which is also a mood lifter.

Be on the lookout for the winter blues and make each day a little better by getting your light, your vitamins and your exercise.

(This article was reviewed June, 2024 since it originally published January, 2017.)

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