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Beating the January Doldrums



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The start of a new year definitely has its bright side!  Regardless of how we felt about our lives and the world in a prior year, there’s usually at least some rush of adrenalin and sense of empowerment accompanying the drop of the ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve and the purchase of a crisp new calendar.  Closing out an old year can be such a boost to morale as we draw the proverbial line in the sand and consider that better things are just around the corner.

Ah, but now the holiday decorations are put away.  It’s still winter, the days are still shorter, the New Year’s resolutions have lost their luster, and here we sit.  January has descended on our lives in classic form, delivering lower temperatures and icy roads that can result in restricted activities, increased isolation, and the possibility for profound boredom.

All of us are susceptible to the “January doldrums”—those dreary, winter-time blahs—but those who are taking care of a loved one may be at even greater risk for those doldrums turning into depression.  Do you know someone who has been out of communication recently due to caregiving responsibilities?  Maybe it’s time to check in with a caring note or phone call.  It doesn’t have to be a big production, but friends who are homebound with a loved one really need and appreciate our regular support and encouragement.

If you are a caregiver and the amount of time you’re able to spend outside the home is limited—whether because you have no one to help you with caregiving tasks, or because the weather is just too bad to go out, or for any other reason—please remember that your self-care is essential. Phone a friend.  Read a book.  Resume working on that hobby. Remember to get some exercise each day, and balance this with adequate sleep.  And since winter-time blues can turn into something more serious, be watching for signs that the above things aren’t helping. Seeing your doctor for a consultation could make a world of difference.

Whether you are the caregiver or someone who cares about one, take courage!  Winter’s days are numbered, and spring is on the way!