With age comes change. You retire, you move out of the family home, your health needs change, and things just aren’t the way they used to be. These changes may come all at once, or they may occur gradually over the years. One side effect of such change is depression: the constant feeling of sadness, anxiety, emptiness, or hopelessness. It’s an unfortunate mental health issue some retirees and older folks face. It’s also a topic that people don’t talk about often enough.

Depression in seniors can set in slowly, over weeks, months, even years. The “little things” can add up and contribute to depression. You might miss family members or be worried about the health of your spouse. You may also be unable to do the things you love. Depression can also set in rapidly, especially when you have to deal with a major life-changing event. Depression can also worsen in the winter months when the weather is colder, the days are shorter, and there isn’t as much sunlight.

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, there are steps you can take to elevate your mood and feel rejuvenated. Here are two activities you can incorporate into your daily or weekly routine.

Exercise

Doing some physical activity every day has many mental health benefits. You can go for a walk, lift weights, or do a few crunches. Participating in as little as 30 minutes of physical activity every day has shown to be an effective method of reducing the effects of depression. Just remember not to overexert yourself!

Volunteer

One of the best ways to boost your spirits is to help others. When you volunteer, you get out of the house and you get to work with others, which refocuses your mind. As little as two hours of volunteer service every week can have a profound positive impact. Chances are there’s a nearby organization that would love your help. You can find more information, including volunteer opportunities in your area, at Nationalservice.gov/programs/senior-corps and Seniorcorps.org.

If you think you have depression, be sure to consult your doctor. While exercise and volunteering are great ways to alleviate depression, they aren’t always a complete fix. Your doctor will help you find the best way to treat your depression.

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