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AARP AARP States Michigan

Beat the Winter Blues

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As winter wraps us in its chilly embrace, it’s important to acknowledge the impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition that can intensify the winter blues for some individuals. SAD is characterized by the onset of depressive symptoms during specific seasons, often winter, when exposure to sunlight is limited. According to Hanne Hoffman, assistant professor at Michigan State University, an estimated 20% to 40% of Michigan’s population is affected and Michigan was recently ranked No. 2 in the nation, only behind Alaska for seasonal affective disorder.

Activities that uplift our spirits while providing opportunities for social connection become crucial to managing symptoms. Group activities, shared experiences and gatherings with friends and loved ones not only provide enjoyment but also serve as therapeutic interventions for those navigating the challenges of seasonal depression. It’s essential to foster a supportive community, ensuring that everyone can find solace and joy in the company of others during the winter months.

Here are some ways to conquer the winter blues:

Community Adventures: Transform your winter outings into community adventures. Organize group activities such as snow-covered hikes, ice skating meetups, snowman competitions or even a neighborhood snowball fight. Shared experiences with neighbors help create bonds and combat social isolation.

Embrace the Winter Wonderland: Michigan’s winter landscape transforms into a snowy playground. Schedule time for a play date! Grab your friends or your family, bundle up, get some fresh air and possibly catch a glimpse of the sun to boost your mood! Check out our top ten list of activities to enjoy this season!

Book Club Gatherings: Create a reading club with friends or neighbors. Set up a virtual book club or organize in-person gatherings where everyone discusses their latest literary discoveries. Get started by checking your local library or bookstore for book clubs, visit Senior Planet to experience a virtual club or check out the 7 Online Book Clubs You Can Join Now.

Cooking or Dinner Parties: Indulge in the culinary delights of winter with friends or family. Host cooking parties where everyone contributes to hearty soups, comforting stews or tries their hand at baking. The joy of creating together enhances the winter experience.

Group Creative Sessions: Channel creativity into group activities. Organize painting nights, writing circles or music jam sessions with friends. Collaborative creativity not only boosts individual mood but also strengthens social ties.

Movie Nights with Friends: Create a festive movie night tradition with friends. Host virtual watch parties or gather in person for a movie marathon.

Spend Time with Animals: Animals can be a comfort in a time of sadness and anxiety. Visit the Michigan State University Farms or a cat café like The Catfe Lounge in Ferndale. Michigan’s zoos are open year-round and winter is a great time to see animals typically sleeping through the summer heat. Even in the winter, spending time outside is beneficial to combatting the winter blues.

Winter Wellness: Join winter wellness workshops with friends or escape to a wellness retreat. Explore activities like group yoga sessions, meditation circles or fitness classes.

Visit the National Institutes of Health with this link for additional information and tips for beating the winter blues.

By infusing social elements into your winter activities, you not only conquer the winter blues but also create lasting memories and strengthen your social network.


* Important Note - If you’re feeling blue this winter, and if the feelings last for several weeks, please talk with a healthcare provider. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we have trouble overcoming seasonal depression. If you find this to be true, know you are not alone and treatment is available.

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