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Enhancing emotional wellness in the winter

Series: Redefining Aging | Story 15

Last updated 1/15/2020 at 4:44pm | View PDF

The winter months can bring a variety of experiences and expectations that can leave us feeling at times elevated and at other times exhausted.

While some things are entirely out of our control, such as days getting shorter and weather changing 10 degrees within an hour, there are things we can do to enhance a time of year which, for many, can be draining.

Different people have various remedies for dealing with challenges the winter months can bring to their doorstep. Some of these methods are tried and true, but there is no harm in exploring additional ways to enhance emotional wellness during the winter season.

Keeping active during the winter can make a big difference in our mood and energy levels. Checking out your park district or library is a good place to start to learn about activities you can participate in. Websites such as and offer an abundance of local events to attend and are simple to navigate.

Exercise, another way to keep active, has also been proven to reduce negative feelings and make you feel better. A number of different options are available for exercise depending on what you are interested in doing and where you live. In Hinsdale, The Community House and the parks and recreation department offer activities such as yoga, ballroom dancing and Zumba.

Volunteering is another activity that helps reduce stress during the winter months. Taking time to give back to your community provides an opportunity to connect with people, find new meaning and purpose and stay mentally healthy. To find opportunities to give back, visiting is a good place to start. VolunteerMatch links people to causes they are interested in contributing to regular or one-time opportunities.

Starting a new tradition, or reviving an old one, is one more way people can boost their mood. The holidays can result in people feeling pressured to feel or act a certain way, which can cause additional stress. Starting a new tradition can be as simple as trying a new recipe or sharing an old favorite with someone you've been meaning to get to know. Building new routines and rituals does not have to start and end in January - it can continue all year long.

For the times you may want to stay in and enjoy a hot beverage under a warm blanket, the following book list offers entertaining titles that include memoir, humor, fiction and self-help.

• "Holidays on Ice" by David Sedaris

• "Einstein's Dreams" by Alan Lightman

• "I See You Made an Effort" by Annabelle Gurwitch

• "A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman

• "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson

As an older adult therapist at Pillars Community Health, I share the agency's mission of reaching out for support when activities like exercise and volunteering are not enough to shake the winter blues. The holiday season can mean a lot of different things for people. Taking time to talk to a professional and explore options that work best for you can make a world of difference.

- by Anastasiya Andreeva, MSW, older adult therapist at Pillars Community Health.


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