Who’s got the Funk?

Bt Marie Gress, LMSW – Director of Operations // Lead Resource Advocate at MSHL
You may start to feel funky in the fall with the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer.  Sometimes it starts as the upcoming holidays overwhelm our lives.  Sometimes the funk finds us right on the holiday, reminding us of a loved one who can’t be with us this year.  And for others, it will wait until the holidays pass and things feel empty.
The funk has many names – seasonal affect disorder, depression, anticipatory grief, stimulus withdrawal, and more. It can come at different times and mess with our brains in different ways, but it always leaves us feeling “funky.”
Think through your last few years – when did it hit you hardest?  What helped you get through it?  Who helped you get through it?  What made it worse?
Being aware of the funky feelings is a great first step when dealing with it.  If you were able to answer some of the questions above, you are well on your way to protecting yourself from falling too deep into it.  I always recommend talking to a friend or counselor about what you are going through.  A good friend will show you that you are not alone, and a counselor can teach you tools to work through it.
One of the worst things you can do is isolate yourself when the funk is strong.  Science and research show over and over that when people isolate, especially older adults, mental health declines, cognition declines, medical issues increase, falls increase, over using alcohol and medication increase, and more.  Isolation makes everything worse.
Socializing, on the other hand, can reverse these affects.  Go to your church group, support group, meet that friend for coffee, even if you don’t feel like it 100%. Come to the center for a card game, a $3 lunch, an exercise class, a free presentation.  Check out one of our clubs like Men’s Coffee Club, Wood Carving Club, Lyrics with Laurie.  Don’t know anyone?  Come to the Thanksgiving Luncheon on November 16, it’s free and there are always new people looking to get connected.  Don’t want to talk to anyone?  Try massage therapy or reflexology – your brain will release similar hormones from the human contact (and it feels amazing).
For more details on these groups, please feel free to call Milan Seniors for Healthy Living at 734-508-6229 or visit our website atwww.milanseniors.org. Is there a topic you’d like to see us write about in the paper?  Please let us know at mshl [at] milanseniors [dot] org.

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