Beating the Winter Blues
By Lisa M. Petsche
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The snow and ice, cold temperatures and limited daylight of winter keep many people indoors and at home more often than they would like. The result for some is a case of the winter blues.
Here are some tips to help you and the person you care for get past them:
Find little things that cheer you
- Treat yourself and your loved one to new flannel pajamas, a polar fleece robe or a cozy, comfortable pair of slippers. Just be sure any footwear has a non-skid sole.
- Keep throws draped over chairs and across the foot of beds for easy access on chilly days and nights. These come in many fabrics, colors and prints to suit any décor, doubling as attractive home accents.
- Invest in quality flannel sheets.
- Soak in a hot, fragrant bath.
- Stock up on gourmet coffee, tea and hot chocolate mix. And don’t forget spices for hot apple cider — a perfect treat for long, wintry nights.
- Order take-out food for a change of cuisine. Try something festive and colorful - like Mexican food, for example.
Warm and brighten your décor
- Evaluate your lighting and change it where necessary, using higher wattage bulbs. Also, relocate lamps or bring spares out of storage.
- Try using warm, rich colors, such as burgundy and gold, for cushion covers, tablecloths, place mats, a mantel scarf, and so on. Brass accessories are also a winter favorite because they reflect light.
- Add texture with warm fabrics like velour, chenille and fleece — the softer, the better. Needlepoint cushions can help, too. And for even more texture, try a bowl of pinecones or potpourri, embossed candles or a grapevine wreath.
- Make generous use of candles, especially substantial pillar types. Place them in clusters and use scented varieties to increase the sensory impact. Note: Always take precautions against starting a fire — place candles where they can’t be knocked over and extinguish them before going out or going to bed.
- Keep blinds and curtains open during daylight hours; close them after dark.
- Bring a bit of nature into your home: nurture some plants or buy fresh flowers.
- Accomplishment brings satisfaction and a sense of renewal. Try new things or tackle long-postponed projects. Involve your loved one as appropriate.
- Start a daily journal.
- Try some new recipes.
- Borrow or buy movies, music CDs and reading material, or reacquaint yourself with old favorites you have on hand.
- Work on some challenging jigsaw puzzles or word puzzles.
- Play card games or board games together. Go with classic board games such as checkers or chess, or be adventurous and try one of the latest offerings in stores. For even more fun, invite friends over for an evening of games and socializing.
- Start a new hobby, such as sketching or scrapbooking, or revive an old pastime - for example, knitting or crocheting.
- Peruse gardening magazines and catalogs and plan this year’s garden.
- Get a bird feeder and seed, a pair of binoculars and a bird watching guide.
- Organize your collection of photos, music or movies.
- Do some de-cluttering around your home (kitchen drawers, closets, spare rooms and attics are typical hot spots).
- Donate unwanted items to a local charity.
- Rearrange the furniture in one or more rooms, or swap furnishings among rooms. Or start planning a major room redecorating or home renovation project.
- Do something nice for someone. It will take your mind off your own situation and make you feel good, too.
- Make an extra effort to look after your health, including exercising regularly - good for both your physical and mental well-being. A stationary bike or treadmill is a good choice — you can use it year-round in your own home.
Make special plans
- Plan an outing to a restaurant or cultural event (ensure in advance that the facilities are accessible). Take a taxi (book accessible transportation if necessary) to ensure door to door service.
- Plan a party, if you enjoy entertaining and feel up to it. Consider a tropical theme and enlist help from friends.
- Start planning a summer vacation or, better yet, a mini getaway for the near future – perhaps a weekend stay at a resort or country inn. Look into respite care options for your loved one if it’s not possible for him to accompany you or you need a break from caregiving.
Lisa M. Petsche is a medical social worker and a freelance writer specializing in health and elder care issues.