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Let’s not get SAD this winter

“If you see someone without a smile,
give them one of yours” – Dolly Parton

With winter fast approaching and cold, grey days looming, it is not uncommon to experience what is widely known as “the winter blues”. In fact, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a legitimate, diagnosable mental health concern experienced by many, so if you find yourself feeling the effects from gloomy weather – you are not alone.

A type of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is brought about by the change in season. Health professionals commonly believe the varied moods experienced by some people, may be due to the changes in hormones triggered at certain times of the year. Experiencing a lack of energy or interest in regular activities, extreme tiredness, over-eating or craving carbohydrate-heavy, comfort foods (and therefore gaining weight), may all be symptoms of SAD.

So, to help you stay positive we’ve put together some tips to beat the “winter blues” this season.

Catch some zzz’s
Whilst getting quality sleep is important, did you know that too much sleep is not necessarily good for you? Adults should aim for between 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night, (children & teenagers need even more) but too much sleep can make us feel lethargic and lacking in energy.
There are many apps available to help you track and ensure you are getting a good night sleep.

Top of the morning to you!
Residents at The Richardson live life their way – some opting to rise early while others preferring to stay up late and sleep in; either way, there is no set-time for breakfast at The Richardson.

Even so, it is interesting to know that sunlight helps trigger our “happy hormone”, serotonin. To abate symptoms of SAD, Health professionals suggest getting up early to optimise your exposure to sunlight. Perhaps a morning stroll or enjoying your morning cuppa outside might just do the trick! If the darker winter months do not allow for this, doctors may recommend light therapy (phototherapy) treatment. Many local dermatologists or medispas in Perth offer light therapy treatments – consult with your GP on which may be best for you.

Helpful Habits
Decades of research has shown that personal change is indeed possible. Setting goals and creating new, sensible habits (or kicking bad ones) can contribute to a healthy, happy mind.

Our lifestyle program is developed with our resident’s interests in mind and intended to support their individual life goals. There are a variety of activities for our residents to choose. Exercise classes to suit a range of abilities, singing & music appreciation, guided meditations, gardening and bible studies are all on offer to keep our residents engaged and striving to achieve their personal goals.

Check out this list of apps available to help you keep on track and achieve your own goals through the colder months.

Wholesome, Hearty Meals
As the skies darken we often crave ‘comfort food’ to boost feelings of happiness & well-being. Foods high in carbohydrates and fats trigger the release of dopamine, endorphins and serotonin; making it an easy choice to reach for that warm sticky-date pudding after dinner. What’s more, as the barometer drops, our body temperatures drop too, stimulating our body’s need to generate internal heat through eating; hence making us feel hungrier during winter.

Choosing healthy, hearty foods can ensure you don’t over-eat and gain unhealthy weight this winter. Live Lighter have a range of healthy meal ideas & recipes to help us feel comforted on those cold nights.

Amongst other nostalgic meals, Shepherd’s pie is a fan-favourite of our residents in winter. All menus and recipes are carefully designed (in consultation with a dietician) and prepared on-site, by Executive Chef Javier, ensuring our residents are devouring healthy helpings of their favourite meals.

Regular catch-ups and communication with loved ones can help to boost our mood. With restrictions easing in Perth, we can now socialise (responsibly) more!

At The Richardson, we understand that a move in to residential care can be an emotional time for residents and family – we are here to provide support along the way. We have a unique approach to help our residents settle in, by allocating a resident-buddy & a dedicated ‘new resident’ carer to help our residents navigate their new home. Residents enjoy chatting to each other in our small communal hubs, located on each level at The Richardson and Carers, registered nurses and our lifestyle team members are often found spending quality time with residents, discussing all topics big and small. Oryx communities provides staff with the opportunity to engage support through an external emotional support program, available free to all staff.

Sharing our thoughts and feelings with someone we trust can often ease our worries, if you or someone you know are experiencing symptoms of depression or need someone to talk to, please call Life Line or speak to your GP. The Black Dog Institute also has a range of support resources available.

If you require support or wish to speak to someone about your situation or that of a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact us on (08) 9381 2800.

Ways to avoid seasonal affective disorder this winter