We are well into the winter season, when snow is piling high in some states and frigid temperatures have us dreaming of spring and summer’s warmth. Maybe this time of year brings fond memories of vacations or time spent with family. Although some people are in good spirits, others may have a difficult time during the winter months. If chilly weather and shorter daylight hours make you feel less inspired and disengaged in your daily life, you’re not alone.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
The winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - a subtype of depression with seasonal changes, can often be the experiences of many. Changes in daylight, social and environmental factors play a role in those affected. About 5% of adults (10 million) in the U.S. get SAD.
Older adults, who are often already suffering from depression, anxiety and loneliness, can be especially vulnerable to experiencing this seasonal type of depression.
The following are the most prevalent indicators of SAD to watch for in older adults:
Feeling sad, hopeless, anxious or guilty
Lack of energy
Increased fatigue and brain fog
Loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities
Sleeping somewhat more or less than normal
Weight or appetite changes
Distressing symptoms can be exacerbated around this time of year, but there are numerous helpful techniques for reducing them.
Solutions for SAD
Various articles suggest remedies to combat the winter blues that you and the older adults in your life may experience, such as light therapy, going on walks and other physical activity, adding vitamin D into your diet, eating healthy foods, and more social interaction. One reliable resolution to promote social interaction and address the winter blues is using music to engage your loved one in listening and singing together. Easy and enjoyable for everyone to use, music can bring a smile to anyone’s face while reducing agitation and promoting relaxation.
Whether you are 8 or 88, research shows singing (even off-key) can have great health benefits, including improved mood, memory, and communication, as well as reduced feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Research has also found that singing affects our brain on such a deep level that it can help regulate cortisol to reduce stress, release oxytocin to promote socialization, and regulate various other neurochemicals to improve our mood and behavior. While pharmaceutical companies target dopamine and serotonin through their anti-anxiety medications, singing can boost those same neurochemicals—without side effects.
One way to easily introduce singing as an activity with your loved one is with SingFit STUDIO Caregiver. SingFit STUDIO is a therapeutic music app that enables you to engage older adults in singing, laughing, and sharing stories. The SingFit app includes songs that uplift and energize your way out of the winter blues, such as Oh Happy Day, Joy to the World, and Don’t Worry, Be Happy, as well as classic oldies from Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, and more.
It’s never been easier to sing away the winter blues. And, with your loved one’s favorite songs, you will create memories that last a lifetime. For more information about SingFit STUDIO, please check out our website.