Many Canadians experience a decline in mood and energy during the winter months. For some, this shift in mood is subtle, for others this change can be noticeable and even debilitating. Signs associated with these “winter blues” include: lethargy, fatigue, increased irritability, not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, and longing for the warmth of spring. Areas of Canada that experience less sunshine during the day may see a considerable increase in these symptoms.
It is important to note that Winter Blues is common for many people, however if symptoms persist or get worse over time, it’s important to speak with a doctor and mental health professional to explore symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This form of depression affects about 2% of the population and can be treated through various means. Whether you’re combatting SAD or just run of the mill seasonal humdrum, here’s some tips to help alleviate some of those symptoms.
Manage Your Winter Blues:
1. Soak up the Sunshine
Winter is known for shorter days and lower temperatures, making it less motivating to go outside or be active. Despite that, try to explore some winter activities that you may enjoy – especially during the daytime when there is more opportunity for sun exposure. Maximize time spent outside in sunlight and look for ways to increase exposure to sunlight in your home, like keeping curtains open.
2. Exercise Regularly
Our body needs movement. If outdoor winter activities don’t interest you, look for ways to move your body indoors. Movement and exercise are vital to optimal physical and mental health. Try a new fitness class, join a friend for an indoor walk at a community centre with a track, try a yoga, or a spin class. There are a number of indoor activities available in the Red Deer area.
3. Accept Winter
Like it or not, winter comes every year. In Alberta it’s common for our winter’s to get brutally cold. Invest in appropriate winter clothing to keep your body, hands, and feet warm when you do go out. Good gear helps us have better thoughts about the cold.
4. Create Warmth
Get cozy and familiarize yourself with Hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-guh’). This Danish concept explores ways to increase feelings of gratitude, contentment, and well-being. This practice can be done by finding pleasure in simple and comforting things. Think cozy fires, warm blankets, and snuggling with loved ones. Shut out the cold and enjoy the comfort of creating warmth.
The winter blues are made worse by isolating yourself. Be intentional about planning get togethers with friends and family, whether it be hosting a games night or enjoying a night skating at an outdoor rink. Reach out to someone and make time to connect.
6. See a Therapist
If you find the winter blues are negatively impact your life, or think you may be experiencing seasonal depression, please to talk to a health professional before your symptoms progress. Talking to a therapist can help you gain new strategies to help manage and even improve the winter blues so that you can continue to enjoy the life you’ve been given.
Winter can get a bad reputation because of the darker days and cold temperatures, but with some self-reflection and intentional activities, it can become another beautiful season to enjoy. Winter has a lot to offer if you’re willing to open your mind to trying new things. Embrace the cold by creating warmth.
IT’S YOUR TENACITY.