Caregiving is tough, emotionally draining work. Add in the dark, chilly weather of winter, and it’s a recipe for the winter blues. Many caregivers experience low moods and energy levels during these months, which can make the job even more difficult. While it is always best to talk to a doctor about serious conditions such as depression and fatigue, there are simple activities and lifestyle changes that caregivers can adopt to help them improve their mental and physical health in the winter. Here are some of our tips to help caregivers beat the winter blues.
Go for a walk- According to Mayo Clinic, getting regular exercise, like going for a walk, releases feel-good endorphins, helps you take your mind off your worries, and gets you out into the world where you can interact with others. Walks are a wonderful way to get in your daily dozen and calm your stress and anxiety.
Take a daily multivitamin- It’s estimated that 50% of the population has vitamin D insufficiency, a vitamin known to influence symptoms of depression. Taking a multivitamin is an easy way to ensure that you are getting the necessary vitamins you need. Of course, before taking any vitamins or medication, it is always important to first speak to your doctor.
Meditate for 10 minutes each morning- Did you know that meditation has been found to change certain brain regions that are specifically linked with depression? Beyond the physical changes meditation can cause in your brain, it is also a great way to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings, and even block out negative thoughts. If you are feeling stressed an overwhelmed by the stress of caregiving, take 10 minutes out of your day and put on a guided meditation. You might be surprised by the results.
Call a friend- When people are feeling down it isn’t unusual for them to withdrawal from friends and family. But talking with your support system is sometimes exactly what you need in challenging times. Try reaching out to a friend to vent and talk about your feelings — you may find you feel a little lighter afterwards.
Write down three things you’re grateful for- Research has shown that those who expressed gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Gratitude is not a cure for depression, but many people do find that it can improve their day-to-day happiness.
Try an at-home yoga class- If you are on the edge of burnout, try turning to a new exercise regimen. With its emphasis on breathing practices, physical movement, and meditation, it comes as no surprise that yoga has great mental benefits. Yoga has been shown to have added mood boosting benefits when compared to other forms of exercise, and it can easily be done indoors which makes it a terrific addition to your wintertime routine.
Seek out nature, fresh air, and sunlight- Most caregivers work inside all day in the winter, but even if you live in a cold climate, it’s important that you step outside from time to time. Being out in nature not only lowers your risk of depression and helps you recover more quickly from stress, but according to the US Department of Agriculture, nature can restore and strengthen our minds, increasing focus and attention. Try ice skating, sledding, or going for a winter hike!
Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night- We all know how important sleep is for our mental well-being but getting the recommended 7-8 hours is easier said than done. To fall asleep at a decent hour, limit your cell phone and computer use close to bedtime, try and create a regular nightly routine, and make sure you don’t drink caffeine late in the day.
Practice self-compassion- You care for and nurture others every day, it’s important to take some time to care for and nurture yourself. Treat yourself how you would treat a cherished friend who is going through a difficult or stressful situation. Talk positively to yourself and give yourself grace.
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables- A balanced diet does more than just keep your body healthy; it also helps keep your mind sharp, and your mood stable. As a caregiver you are always on the go, but which can make it tempting to only eat junk food, especially when you’re feeling low. But it’s important to not neglect your nutrition. Try and incorporate a couple of servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Don’t let the winter blues bring you down this year. Try and incorporate some of these tips in your daily life to stay energized and to make sure you’re at your best for your friends, family, patients, and most importantly, yourself.
See More Blog