Banish Those November Blues with a Holistic Plan That Works Wonders for Women Over 60
As you move into your 60s and beyond, what images come to your mind when you hear the word ‘November’? Depending on where you live, you may have only positive connotations associated with this month. I live in Canada, so for me, even the mention of November makes me shiver!
I conjure up images of dark, damp, and gloomy days. Nightfall that sets in as early as 4pm. Cold, rainy weather that chills to the bone. Gardens and lawns that have withered and become lack-lustre. Less social contact as families and friends retreat indoors to their fireplaces and choose to go to bed earlier.
Without a plan of action to counteract all of these negatives, I could easily fall into a depressed state in late autumn, overindulging on carbs, wine, and Netflix to compensate. However, I’ve found a better solution. Early each fall, I now implement the following holistic action plan.
Start Taking Vitamin D3 Again
Taking vitamin D3 is such an easy thing to do and yet easy to overlook, as most of us don’t need to supplement our bodies with Vitamin D during the summer months. Often called the sunshine vitamin, it is produced naturally in our skin in response to sunlight.
The benefits of Vitamin D and especially D3 have been well documented. They include things like improved bone density and brain health, strengthened immune system, lower occurrence of autoimmune disorders, and even an aid to weight loss.
For myself, I really notice more depressed moods in winter if I forget to re-integrate this vitamin into my daily regime. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor regarding appropriate dosage for your body’s needs.
Let There Be Light
Scientific studies have confirmed that inadequate access to light, combined with cold weather, can increase the risk for depression and can also alter our circadian rhythms, the process that regulates our sleep-wake cycles.
Extensive research has been conducted into the benefits of light therapy, especially full spectrum indoor lighting. I am certainly not an expert in this area, but two years ago, I changed all of the lightbulbs in my home to daylight or natural light LED bulbs.
In addition to energy savings, I experienced better moods and felt more energetic as I eliminated the yellow hues of regular bulbs. It’s worth your further research and worth a try.
November is the time to load up on all of those antioxidant-rich root vegetables. I love to cut up sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic, and onions, drizzle them with heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil, add some spices and then roast them in the oven for more than an hour. So little effort for so many benefits!
Sometimes I add parsnips or white potatoes. The smell of roasted vegetables and the warmth in my kitchen serve to quickly dissipate my November blues. Even if I overeat, I’m eating healthy!
All of those vitamins and antioxidants will help to protect me from winter colds and flus. You can always add some chicken legs or a pork roast in another pan to provide your protein.
I live alone and have no family close by. I make myself go to the gym four times a week, whether I feel like it or not. Funny thing, even if I have to give myself a push to get there, I never regret going.
I always end up chatting with other like-minded members, and I always feel so much better when I leave than when I entered the gym! Which brings me to my next point.
Yoga and Exercise
Yoga has been life changing for me (but that’s another blog waiting to be written!) The wonderful thing about gentle yoga is that you can do it even if you feel a little blue or downright depressed.
I could never manage a high impact aerobics class when I feel a little down. But yoga is calming and restorative, and it is a ‘given’ that not everyone will look the same or reach the same posturing as their fellow participants. There is no judgement and no pressure.
When I complete a yoga class, whether gentle yoga or a more challenging intermediate class, I feel mentally calm and balanced afterwards. I opt to attend morning classes, before I can talk myself out of going!
Music and White Noise Devises
I work part-time as a proctor in the Testing Centre of our local community college. It was there that I discovered the benefits of white noise electronic devices and the calming effect they have on our students.
I have opted to buy a very inexpensive device for my home, with options that include ocean waves, summer night sounds (like crickets chirping), babbling brooks, and many more.
These sounds remind me of warmer seasons and help to combat my November blues. Music has always been therapeutic for me, and the choices for mood lifting arrangements are abundant now.
Bringing Colour into Your Surroundings
Do you believe in the power of colour? In late October, I frequent all of the local flower nurseries and buy up their remaining mums in a variety of colours – purple, yellow, bright red, and orange.
These hardy flowers will last for at least a month and can be transplanted into my garden to bloom the following year.
I add some pumpkins for added tincts. These pops of colour keep me going until December when the days are a little brighter with the beginning snowfalls.
I also try to refrain from wearing my gray and black sweaters in November and opt for my brighter pink and orange tops. It’s amazing how energizing that can be!
SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder
Many people in northern climates suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you think you may be one of them, talk with your health care professional. There are many medications and devices such as SAD lamps that can be helpful.
Life in our 60s and beyond should be joyful. That said, it is never shameful or diminishing to ask for some help along the way. We owe it to ourselves to be content and joyful regardless of the month or season. Let’s do everything we can to make it so!
Do you feel blue in November? What strategies have you found useful to shake the November blues? Do you suffer from SAD syndrome? What has been helpful for you? Please share your insights with our community.