All Things O’Neill – January

We all get the blues and blahs in winter, but there is help

A lot has been said in poems and songs about the doldrums of winter. The hustle and bustle of the holidays is done and the long, cold days have us settled in for the long haul, counting the months until spring. We are definitely feeling it and we’re sure you are, too.

It has been nearly three years that the world has also been dealing with a pandemic, which adds to the sense of depression and frustration. Seasonal Affective Disorder touches many people this time of year, and the exhaustion that comes with worrying about covid just adds to an overall feeling of blah – for lack of a better word.

Did you know, though, that exercise, both for your body and brain, is a good way to fend off depression? It’s true, according to the Mayo Clinic. That’s why the O’Neill and Belpre Senior Centers offer a variety of exercise classes, social games and other activities to stimulate the mind and body. Crafts and other artistic hobbies; inspirational movies or documentaries; board games and trivia … all of these activities can help to alleviate depression. For a complete schedule of activities, visit

The Mayo Clinic also offers these tips:

  • Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open blinds, trim tree branches that block sunlight or add skylights to your home. Sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office.
  • Get outside. Take a long walk, eat lunch at a nearby park, or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help — especially if you spend some time outside within two hours of getting up in the morning.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself, too, which can lift your mood.
  • Normalize sleep patterns. Schedule reliable times to wake up and go to bed each day. Especially for fall-winter-onset SAD, reduce or eliminate napping and oversleeping.

Of course, if you feel your case of the blahs is of a more serious nature, perhaps it’s time to talk to your doctor about treatment options. While you’re there, maybe it’s time for an annual checkup. Pay attention to what your body tells you. We’ve all been dealing with a lot of stuff over the last few years. If covid fear weighs heavy on you, consider having home tests on hand. Residential households in the U.S. can order one set of 4 free at-home tests from Here’s what you need to know about your order:

  • Limit of one order per residential address
  • One order includes 4 individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests
  • Orders will ship free starting in late January

Feeling a little blue can happen to anyone at any time of the year, but winter seems to be a time when we are all especially susceptible to both mental and physical ailments. Don’t let old man winter get the best of you. Get some exercise, visit with friends, take a walk. Join us at the senior center. You’ll be glad you did.

Erin O’Neill is Development Coordinator for The O’Neill Center, located at 333 Fourth St. in Marietta.