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Make the Season Brighter

Posted 11/23/2017 by UHBlog

Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you’ll catch the winter blues. Talk to us about ways you can stay positive during the holidays.

Extended family enjoying seasonal meal

It may be labeled “the most wonderful time of the year,” but if you find the winter months challenging, you aren’t alone.

“A lot of it has to do with the weather,” says Natalie Thomas, DO. “People are less prone to getting out – especially older folks – because it can be icy, cold and people’s joints ache.”

For older adults in particular, added mobility concerns can make the holiday season especially isolating.

According to Dr. Thomas, staying indoors can take a toll on your mood for the following reasons:

  • Disengagement. “People tend to feel glum because they aren’t engaged in the community,” she says.
  • Lack of sunlight. The short days and gloomy weather may prevent you from getting the vitamin D you need and lead to a more depressed mood.
  • Loneliness. The winter holidays emphasize family, and for some people who have lost loved ones it’s a very sad time.

However, keeping your spirits up isn’t as hard as you’d think. Dr. Thomas recommends the following five ways to make your holiday season brighter:

  1. Stick to your routine. The importance of keeping your regular schedule can’t be stressed enough.
    “It’s dark when you wake up and then by 5 p.m., it’s dark again,” Dr. Thomas says. “People tend to sleep longer and not get up at regular times. This can impact your energy levels throughout the day.”
  2. Exercise. Keep your body moving, even if you need to modify your exercise.
    “For those with limited mobility, programs like senior transportation can help you get involved in an exercise program,” she says. “Additionally, there are exercises that can be done from a chair to keep your body moving.”
  3. Eat well. “Make sure to limit the amount of meat you consume, like ham and turkey, because they have a high salt content,” says Dr. Thomas. “Be mindful about eating smaller portions, eating slowly and still making sure that fruits and vegetables are the main part of your diet.”
  4. Get involved. Find activities to do in the community.
    “You can volunteer just about anywhere. There are so many opportunities at hospitals, food banks and even libraries,” she says. “It’s important to stay engaged in the community.”
  5. Preparation. Taking Vitamin D supplements can help combat the lack of sun in addition to preventing brittle bones.

By being proactive, you can stay joyful in the winter months.

“Most people don’t get hit all at once with being glum,” Dr. Thomas says. “It’s important to know it’s a possibility and take action while you have energy.”

Natalie Thomas, DO is a family medicine specialist at University Hospitals Westlake Health Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Thomas or any doctor online.

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