How homecare can help beat January blues
As we all navigate the post-holiday season, many individuals experience a decline in mood commonly known as the “January blues.” This is a good reminder to pay close attention to the mental health and well-being of ourselves, our community, and our clients. For homecare clients and mature adults especially, the changing seasons can contribute to a lower mood.
What are January blues
According to the NHS, “January blues” refers to the period after the festive holiday season and a decline in mood. The NHS suggests that the idea around January blues may be explained by things like Seasonal Affective Disorder and Depression which can be heightened at this time of year due to factors like:
- Reduced daylight hours, colder weather, and less time outdoors
- Financial worries and strain following Christmas
- Returning to work after a long break
- Lack of motivation to complete New Year Resolutions set
- Drinking and eating habits over the holiday period may result in feeling sluggish after the change to routine
- Dealing with loneliness, loss or estrangement over the holiday period.
Understanding why this can happen, and how home care providers like us can proactively help clients overcome these challenges is of great importance to Birchwood Care Services.
Setting goals and looking to the future
One effective approach to combatting the January blues is to engage in activities that encourage reflection and anticipation of the future. These activities empower clients to take charge of what they want to experience or achieve while understanding how their caregiver can support them in doing so.
We understand that this can look different for everyone. Some people may find forward-thinking activities stressful or upsetting, while others may find they help relieve anxiety, instilling a sense of purpose and excitement for the days to come.
As always, our carers prioritise a tailored experience for each client. They know what each individual enjoys and is comfortable with, and they are adept at managing expectations and respecting boundaries. So, for each client, forward-thinking may look different, but for those who are keen to engage with the New Year trend of self-reflective and looking ahead, here are some great activities to explore:
- Goal setting: this is a nice reflective activity to help clients be intentional with what they any want to experience or achieve over the coming year. Completing the activity with a carer also helps everyone to be on the same page and ensures that the homecare team can best understand how to support the client to achieve these goals. It may be small goals, like planting a new flower, reading a certain book, visiting a particular place, or drinking more water. It can also be bigger achievements too, with small steps to work achieving goals that they find meaningful.
- New Year Resolutions: there can be a lot of debate around whether New Year Resolutions are a good or bad thing, and perspectives differ from person to person. Goal setting can be a more relaxed version of resolutions that may feel less pressured, but if clients are keen to create some New Years Resolutions, carers can also support them in exploring what they want to resolve and make a plan for how to do so.
- Vision boards: this is a similar but more creative and tactile way to explore clients’ hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Clients and carers can use clippings from magazines and newspapers, print out images, paste photos, draw, or even create a digital rendering with support, to visually conceptualise what they want 2024 to be like.
- A planner, diary, or calendar: for clients who enjoy keeping one of these, carers can help them to fill in birthdays, events, anniversaries, important dates or life milestones. If clients don’t have any of these but want to get one for the new year, carers can help secure items online or plan a day out to the shops.
Fresh air, exercise and making the most of daylight
Enjoying the outdoors and getting the body moving is a focus for carers and clients all year long, but it can be especially important during the winter months. With less daylight and colder temperatures, it can be challenging to ensure clients can safely enjoy the outdoors on their own. That’s where our experienced and knowledgeable team of carers come in, helping to make the outdoors more accessible and safe exercise more achievable. Exercise is a great way to boost your mood and improve your overall well-being and can be achieved through a large variety of activities, from walking and stretching to swimming and dancing.
Learning a new skill
Another way that homecare can help with January blues is by supporting clients to get creative or learn a new skill. This can provide a boost to confidence and help people gain a sense of achievement amidst periods of low mood and January blues. Carers can work with clients to experiment with cooking a new meal, taking up an art or craft like embroidery, or create a gratitude journal. Studies show it’s never too late to try something new and build new neural pathways – it’s just about tapping into your creativity and building repetition to strengthen new skills and form habits.
January blues can affect individuals differently, but with the support of home care providers, clients can engage in activities that promote well-being, boost mood, and instil a positive outlook for the year ahead. If you’re interested in additional tips for helping the elderly stay warm during the winter, continue reading our earlier blog here.