Coping with the winter blues
With the holidays over and the grey winter weather setting in, some Canadians may notice a shift in mood and energy.
While ‘Blue Monday’ – the third Monday of January – once touted as the most depressing day of the year, has proven to be a myth (this claim has no scientific evidence to support it), the ‘winter blues’ are all too real. Research in Ontario suggests that 15% of the general population have experienced the winter blues, which can include changes in appetite and lethargy as the days grow shorter.
The winter blues differs from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which affects about 2% of the population and is a serious form of depression. Winter blues is a mild form of SAD, which causes discomfort but is not incapacitating. SAD, on the other hand, can be a debilitating condition preventing individuals living with the disorder from functioning normally.
People experiencing the winter blues can benefit from:
- Maximizing exposure to sunlight. Spend more time outdoors during the day and arrange indoor environments to receive maximum sunlight. Trim tree branches that block light, for example, and keep curtains open during the day. Move furniture to sit near a window.
- Exercise. Exercise relieves stress, builds energy and increases mental and physical well-being. Make a habit of taking a daily noon-hour walk. The activity and increased exposure to natural light can raise spirits.
- Eating well. Healthy eating has been shown to benefit mental as well as physical health. Be sure to incorporate fruits and vegetables in daily eating habits.
CMHA Niagara offers Walk-In Counselling and Urgent Support Services to support individuals (16 years of age and up) at their time of need. No appointments necessary. For more information about these services and information about where they are offered, please visit our Programs and Services page.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call: COAST, Niagara at 1-866-550-5205