Overcoming The Wintertime Blues
By Paula Erwin-Toth
Do you remember the song, “Ain’t no cure for the summertime blues?” As a caregiver you probably know the feelings of being a bit overwhelmed or down. Not surprisingly, it is not summer, but winter that may cause many people to feel a bit down. Caregivers are especially vulnerable. Your caregiving responsibly along with all of your other duties can seem even more trying during the winter months. Some people even suffer from a condition called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD) that causes them to feel depressed according to a particular season, usually winter, or as the seasons change. SAD is a recognized mood disorder that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional.
Fewer Hours of Daylight Can Cause the Blues
Thankfully though, most caregivers only tend to experience what we might call “feeling blue,” which may alter our outlook and mood without overwhelming us or requiring medical intervention. Fewer hours of daylight, gloomy skies, cold weather, snow, sleet, and rain can dampen the spirits of even the most exuberant personality. My Mom used to call this the ‘Eeyore’ time of year. Eeyore, the beloved character in the ‘Winnie The Pooh’ books by A.A. Milne, was always sad, gloomy and pessimistic. Truth be told Eeyore would probably have benefitted from some therapy!
How to Diminish the Wintertime Blues
For most caregivers the winter blues are temporary and there are some things you can do to brighten your mood as well as your loved one’s:
- Caregivers and their loved ones can engage in activities to brighten a dismal day.
- Open your curtains and blinds, even if it is gloomy outside letting in natural light can brighten your day.
- If possible, get outside at least once a day. Can you only get as far as the front porch? No worries, the point is to just be outside.
- When weather permits, open your windows a bit to let in fresh air.
- Add a little color to your rooms with a bright throw pillow or blanket.
Mid-Winter Beach Party
When my daughter was little we would hold a mid-winter beach party complete with swimsuits, inflatable palm trees, a plastic pool filled with beach balls and enjoy pineapple juice ‘on the rocks’ complete with a drinking umbrella all while we enjoyed listening to “The Beach Boys – Endless Summer.” My husband was a great sport and grilled hamburgers outside for us no matter what the weather (one winter it was -15°F, and he will never let me forget it). For several years, I was a caregiver for my grandmother and great Aunt and Uncle. At first they questioned my sanity, but quickly they joined in the fun. It was a small thing but it made the days leading up to, during and after the party a thing of joy for all of us. I am continuing this tradition with my grandchildren and hope that when the time comes that they are my caregivers, they will do the same for me.