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How to Support Your Client’s Mental Health This Winter

Now that the holidays are over and the days have grown darker, grayer, and colder, it’s normal for people to feel a bit melancholy, especially for those dealing with illnesses or advancing in age. Chilly weather makes it difficult to get outside as often, which also means you’re receiving much lower levels of sunlight. Research has shown that less sun exposure during shorter winter days can cause changes in brain chemistry, like serotonin and melatonin levels. These biochemical changes can cause symptoms of depression. Fortunately, there are many preventative measures you can take to support your client’s mental and physical health this winter! We put together six tips to get you through the season.

1.  Encourage Connection

With cold and flu season at its peak and very few activities being held outdoors, your client may begin to feel lonely from a lack of community or connection. Even if they are cautious of indoor gatherings, now more than ever, there are so many ways to socialize with others online. Find out what your client’s interests or hobbies are and help them join an online club or community. You can also encourage them to set up a weekly phone or video call with friends and family. This will give them something to look forward to each week and also give them a sense of purpose.

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2.  Natural Light

Encourage your client to get outside and enjoy the daylight, when possible. Make sure they’re bundled up and go for a brisk walk when the sun is at its brightest, to soak up some Vitamin D. On days where it’s not possible to get outside, open all of the blinds throughout their house and encourage them to sit in a sunny area. 

3. Give Back

Being of service can help promote social connection, gratitude, and happiness. There are many ways your clients can give back from the comfort of their own homes. For example, they can become a volunteer to help the Crisis Text Line. If your client is at least 18 years old and can commit to volunteering four hours each week, they can apply to be trained for free. Be My Eyes is a free mobile app with the goal of making the world more accessible for blind and low-vision people. The app connects blind and low-vision individuals with sighted volunteers from all over the world through a live video call.

4. Vitamin D

Winter is upon us and so is the risk of Vitamin D deficiency and infections. Vitamin D, which is made in our skin following sunlight exposure and is also found in oily fish, mushrooms, and fortified dairy and non-dairy substitutes, is essential in keeping us healthy and fighting infections. Encourage your client to talk with their doctor about their Vitamin D levels and any supplements they can take to ensure they don’t experience a deficiency. 

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5. Focus on the Good

It’s hard to feel down when you’re focused on all the great things in your life. Have your client write down three things they’re grateful for each day in a journal. Perhaps you can both discuss things you’re grateful for during visits.

6. Create Routine

Studies show that a regular routine can ease mental stress, improve sleep, and help us feel more in control. Routines also help people to maintain healthier habits and deal with challenges. Rather than worrying too much about what might happen in the future, give your clients things they need to focus on each day. That will help them to manage any fears and mood changes.

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Looking for more professional support? Make sure to follow our blog for ideas. If you are interested in exploring home care service job opportunities as a Nurse (RN or LPN), Certified Home Health Aide, or Certified Nursing Assistant in our service area, you have the opportunity to sign up at a Preferred Home Health Care & Nursing Services location near you or by using this website to apply.

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