The Winter Blues
The holidays have come to an end, and many of us feel dread with the realization that there are still several months of cold, dark days ahead. Some of us are fortunate enough to break up the winter with an escape to a warm destination, and others are able to fully embrace the season and make the most of it with all the wonderful winter activities Canada has to offer. But for many of us (up to approximately 10%) – winter drags on, and it can be hard to find the motivation to even get out of bed or leave the house. When we're finished work for the day and it feels like 9:30 p.m. given the dark sky - we head home to hibernate. This isolation, often combined with a lack of exercise and social interaction can take its toll. It often leads to poor eating habits and impacts our mood substantially. And as with everything, it's a cycle - a negative, downward cycle that does not seem to break until the soil warms and small budding plants begin to arrive. During this time of year we might sleep more without feeling rested; increase our eating, feeling generally low and withdrawn, and have a hard time focusing. All of this is often combined with an overall sense of anxiety.
So how can we recreate spring and summer light and warmth for ourselves during the dark cold days of winter? Here are some tips:
- Get a good night of rest – 6-8 hours is recommended.
- Exercise – even for 20-30 minutes a day if you can’t get to the gym for a full workout.
- Eat a balanced diet – Try not to binge on carbohydrates.
- Take vitamin D supplements (ask a professional for assistance in choosing the right one for you).
- Shift your day – Try to get up early to embrace as much daylight as possible and actually get outside.
- Take time for yourself – Have a break, get a pedicure, or just curl up with a good book.
- Plan an outing – Whether it’s a trip, a weekend hike, or spa day – Set something on your schedule to look forward to.
- Try to embrace the winter and become a cold winter lover with all the recreational activities it has to offer.
- Seek support – Whether informally with a good friend or family member, or with a professional who can support you through a difficult time. Cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be useful with the winter blues.
And try to remember, it will be over before we know it and the warmth of the sun will be back!
Be well people.
In January we often look toward New Year resolutions. We have an opportunity to breath after the busy holidays and hopefully reflect on the past year - the ups, downs and in between. This seems to naturally lead us to setting goals for the year before us - a clean slate and opportunity to become a better version of ourselves. But if I am any reflection of the greater population, it can be hard to stick to said-goals and once we experience any degree of 'failure', our new goals often go by the wayside. And so, I say: Ditch the New Year resolution and embrace the New Day resolution. Wake up each morning with a renewed commitment to achieving your goals - make a valiant effort - but if we only hit the 60% mark on a particular day, we can acknowledge and accept this, move on to the next day and try again! Small steps and being gentle with ourselves is in order - knowing that it is a wonderful sign of strength and self-awareness that we want to work daily toward being the best version of ourselves.