Tips on overcoming the ‘winter blues’

The Winter Solstice is upon us, which means our days are at their shortest and darkest.
It’s a time when many people experience the ‘winter blues’ (or a more severe form called Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD). According to the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), approximately 18 percent of Canadians experience the winter blues in some way during their lifetimes. 
The signs are similar to depression, and include:
  • low mood
  • low motivation 
  • lethargy
  • social withdrawal
  • fluctuations in weight
  • a general lack of interest and engagement in activities and hobbies.

While the winter blues may go away on their own for some, others may benefit from utilizing coping strategies.

1. Structure your day with a routine and self-care activities. Identify what activities/hobbies can help you feel the sense of pleasure and/or accomplishment. Schedule and carry out those activities. 
2. Exercise – incorporate 20-30 minutes of exercise into your routine. Not only will it help you with your physical health, it will also help reduce overall stress, release endorphins and make you feel more energized for better mental health.
3. Socialize. Keep in touch with your loved ones. Reach out to friends and acquaintances that you haven’t talked in a while. 
4. Healthy diet. Incorporate vitamin D-rich foods such as mushrooms and salmon. Consult your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement. 
5. Light therapy. Special lamps for light therapy mimic outdoor light. 30 minutes of light therapy can help relieve the winter blues. Get a book or a magazine as you bathe in light. 
6. Go outside. Take a stroll in the park. Exposure to natural light in the morning has been found to be particularly helpful with the winter blues.