Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Health & Wellness

Battling the (Winter) Blues One Sip, Stroll, or Ski Jump at a Time

From  / 
Many people feel their energy level sag as the frigid winter weather and diminished daylight begin to wear on their spirits.

For some, this sluggish feeling can translate into a loss of interest in favorite activities and increased isolation from family and friends. Seasonal storms can leave us homebound, and even a simple walk outdoors or errand run become more complicated in the snow and ice. Holidays and vacations can also tug loved ones in various directions, adding to feelings of loneliness and separation.

But, staying connected – and active – has the potential to fight back against those feelings. Here are a few ways exercising your body and mind can help battle the winter blues:

Break out the board games: Could “doctor’s orders” include more board games in your future? A recent medical study of individuals aged 65 and older, published in JAMA Psychiatry, found daily participation in intellectual activities – such as reading books and playing board games – “was associated with a significantly lower risk of dementia several years later.“

It’s not about how you roll the dice; health benefits are more likely to be found in keeping your mind active, enhancing memory by doing puzzles and games, and in the calming, focused activity that some board games offer.

Join the club: One way to break through feelings of isolation is through planned social activities, including volunteer work, classes, and clubs. According to researchers at The University of Queensland, maintaining social groups – particularly after retirement – may have positive effects on longevity and quality of life.

Not sure where to find the right groups in your area? The public library may be a good place to start, and many even host book clubs on site, providing multiple copies of book selections for group members. There are also assorted websites with informative suggestions on what kind of rules, books, and discussion topics might make sense for your club.

Take to the slopes: The Baby Boomer generation was one of the first to popularize skiing as a recreational activity, and many have yet to lay their poles down. This outdoor pastime offers plenty of fresh air and, on sunny days, Vitamin D. As a weight-bearing activity, it may help to keep bones strong. It can also be a very social activity with a number of older enthusiasts forming new groups and even online communities.

Behold a winter bird: It’s true, the songbirds may have moved on, but winter can be the “best time of year for backyard bird-watching,” according to New York Times columnist Margaret Renkl. Many local birds are easier to spot in the cold weather, when sparse tree branches can draw species to more open spaces in search of food.

A winter stroll can become a meditation, as Renkl notes: “A walk in the woods is an exercise in near silence now, the only sounds my own lumbering footfall and the huff of my breath on an uphill path.” If you crave the company of fellow bird watchers, chances are good that a national organization is scheduling events somewhere near you right through the winter. 

And remember, there’s always comfort in the cocoa: We have it on good authority that a pot of chocolate shared between friends can elevate the beverage to a whole new level. Just don’t forget the mini marshmallows.

Read More In Health & Wellness

It's time to stop worrying about getting old and start enjoying it.
Get Oldspired →