It’s not a secret that winters in the mid-Atlantic are long, cold and sunshine is limited. From severe snowstorms to sub-zero temperatures, the weather can make it difficult to get just about anywhere because of unsafe driving conditions. This is especially true for seniors who live alone, or have limited transportation options.

Being cooped up in the house for long periods of time in the winter can negatively affect a person’s mood. If the long, cold days leave you feeling sad or lonely, you may have a case of the winter blues.

But there’s no need to be alarmed. It is actually common for seniors (and many others) to be affected emotionally by cold temperatures and shorter periods of sunlight. We all need light and activity to keep our spirits up and, as we know, the winter months unfortunately offer little of either.

Playing in the snow

A few minutes outside with your grandchildren can brighten any day, even a wintery one.

Find Ways to Move Around and Stay Busy and Engaged Every Day

It’s important to spend some time outside every day — unless the temperatures are unsafe. Take time to watch your grandchildren play in the snow, or, if it’s not too icy, take a short walk around the neighborhood. As little as 30 minutes outside each day can positively boost your mood, especially when the sun is shining.

Some days, however, it may just be too cold to leave the house. If that happens, there are things you can do indoors to keep busy. For instance, because it has been a while since spring cleaning, it’s possible that some rooms in the house could be tidied up. There are also many hobbies, like scrapbooking, playing cards or quilting, which you could try. When you’re indoors, make sure rooms are well lit, because even artificial lighting can help to improve your mood.

If you’re having trouble finding things to do during the winter, check with area gyms or your local senior center to see if they offer fitness classes for seniors. It has been proven that exercise not only helps with physical health, but mental health as well. Group fitness activities, or even other classes, also offer social opportunities, too.

If you’re still feeling sad, you will want to talk to your physician. He or she will be able to determine what is necessary to best assist you.