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Beating the Holiday Blues

Emotions run high during the holiday season. But let’s face it: Sometimes they dip low, too. Tend the body, mind, and spirit during the weeks ahead with these tips from the Foundation for Health in Aging:

Get out and about. Travel with family and friends to parties and events or invite family and friends to your home. Looking for a fun craft for families with children? Try making a handprint Christmas tree by tracing the hands of each guest on green paper, cutting them out, and gluing them together with fingertips facing down. Add a brown rectangle trunk and decorate.

Volunteer. Helping others is a great mood lifter. Contact schools, shelters, and places of worship for volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood.

Limit the eggnog. Too much alcohol can lower your spirits. Try hot apple or spiced peach cider, or add crushed peppermint to hot chocolate.

Accept and express your feelings. There’s nothing “wrong” with feeling less than jolly. Talk about your feelings to help understand why you feel the way you do.

If an older loved one has the blues or seems depressed:

Lend a hand. Offer help with shopping, transportation, and preparations for get-togethers in their homes.

Be a good listener. Encourage your loved one to talk about how he or she is feeling. Acknowledge “difficult” feelings, including the sense of loss when family or friends die or move away. Suggest lighting a candle or creating an online tribute in honor of the loved one.

Know the signs of depression: Holiday blues are usually mild and temporary. Depression is more serious. Look for sadness that won’t lift; loss of interest or pleasure; changes in appetite, weight, or sleeping habits; frequent crying; feeling restless or tired all the time; feeling worthless, helpless, or guilty; slowed thinking; and thoughts of death or suicide.

Many older people don’t realize when they’re depressed. If you suspect depression, encourage him or her to talk with a health care provider. Depression is a medical illness that can be treated and managed.

Click here for more on depression in older adults from the American Geriatrics Society’s Foundation for Health in Aging.

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