Winter may not be here yet, but our rainy season has begun in the Pacific Northwest. We’re facing several months of cooler, wetter weather and shorter days — a combination that makes it tempting to snuggle up on the couch for hours at a time.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with spending the afternoon or evening reading a good book or watching movies, of course. The potential harm comes from stringing too many of those afternoons and evenings together over the course of several months, or longer.
Plenty of research shows too much inactivity can negatively affect our mental and physical health in many ways. So how do you resist the tendency to be a couch potato, especially this time of year?
Read on for some suggestions!
This may be the single most important way to stay active any time of the year. Making plans to get together with friends gives us something specific to anticipate and can help us stay on track with our usual routine during times when it might be easy to “let things slide.”
You don’t even have to do anything special — the mere act of engaging with other people whose company you enjoy can have positive health benefits. Think of how a phone call from a friend or favorite family member can brighten your day.
If you can combine the time you spend with friends with some physical activity, so much the better. For instance, maybe you meet for breakfast or lunch and visit a museum afterward. Or maybe you plan to take an exercise class together and have a snack or a meal when you’re done.
You and your friends can bounce ideas off each other and get creative. Try doing an online search to see what there is to do in your general vicinity. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find, and you may even be inspired to try something new!
It’s not unusual for our network of friends and acquaintances to grow smaller as we get older. It may also be more difficult — but certainly not impossible — to make new connections when we’re no longer in the workplace.
The possibilities that follow are tried and true ways of meeting new people. If you’re not comfortable going alone, ask a trusted neighbor, friend or family member to go with you the first time or two.
Find something new to do
As we mentioned, if you look online to see what’s taking place in your neighborhood, you may find some activities that spark your interest. If you’ve always wanted to learn sign language, why not start now? Curious about the health benefits of tai chi? See if there are classes nearby. Cooking and art classes are other popular options you might consider.
You can also check with your neighborhood senior center or community college to see what’s being offered there. The point is to get out there and explore what’s going on outside of your home. There’s a very good chance you could end up developing a new friendship and a new hobby at the same time.
Volunteering is another way to meet people, and you can benefit others with your time and skills. Schools, animal rescue organizations and community food banks almost always welcome people who are willing to help.
Explore, or deepen, your belief system
Some people find that faith services are an excellent way to connect with others. If you don’t have a faith tradition, you can check out local nondenominational places of worship.
Spirituality doesn’t have to involve a religious component. There are secular and ethical societies, as well as organizations that offer regularly scheduled meetings and activities. If you’re so inclined, find out when the next one is and plan to attend.
Depending on which source you consult, somewhere between one-quarter and one-third of seniors in the U.S. live alone. This makes it more likely they will experience loneliness or feelings of isolation.
This time of year, when the dark of evening comes early, it’s even easier for lethargy, apathy and depression to set in. Consider Newton’s first law of motion, also known as the law of inertia: A body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it.
Although this applies to inanimate objects, we often see the same effect on ourselves — particularly when we’re all snug on the sofa and it’s just too much trouble to get up.
Sometimes we need that external nudge to get going.
Make plans with friends and commit to following through. Ask a family member or friend to call you on a regular basis. Sign up for classes, and then go to them. It may take some extra effort to push yourself to do these things, but the payoff will be worth it. Plus, you’ll be helping the people you engage with as well.
If you’ve looked into independent living in Redmond, then you may have already discovered that Emerald Heights offers an abundance of activities throughout the year.
From wellness and educational classes to regularly scheduled social activities and resident-led interest group meetings, there are plenty of ways to stay engaged. Simply being here among a community of warm, friendly people provides support and a sense of camaraderie.
You don’t have to live here to experience the lifestyle. We host a variety of in-person and virtual events that give interested older adults the opportunity to see what it would be like to be a resident. You’ll find them on our upcoming events page, where you can register to attend whichever ones you like.
On the events page, you’ll also find a short contact form you can fill out if you’d like to join us for a personal visit. We’ll be happy to show you around our community, and you can talk with people who live here to see how they feel about Emerald Heights.
Why not reach out to us today? It’s a surefire way to beat those winter blues — before they come knocking at your door!