Kick the Winter Blues

January 11, 2024

As the cold winter days grow shorter, Ontarians may find themselves lacking energy and feeling “blue.”

Winter blues is a term that is commonly used to describe a mild form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or a general feeling of low energy and mood during the winter months. Signs you may be experiencing SAD may include lethargy, irritability, changes in sleep patterns, and a general sense of not feeling your best.

In Ontario, research suggests that 15 per cent of the general population have experienced the winter blues, which is different from SAD. SAD affects about two per cent of the population and is a serious form of depression.

Here are a few tips to help kick the winter blues:

  • Enjoy time spent doing a favourite outdoor activity. Spend time outdoors during daylight hours and arrange indoor environments that give you maximum sunlight. For example, you may wish to keep curtains open during the day to allow natural light in your living space. Move furniture to sit near a window.
  • Try something new. Maintain social connections. Spend time with friends and family. Join clubs or groups with activities you enjoy.
  • Take a walk at one of the city’s trails. 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.
  • Make a colourful meal. Healthy eating has been shown to benefit mental as well as physical health. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit the intake of sugary and processed foods.
  • Reach out for help. To anyone struggling with mental health and addiction at this time, please reach out. Help is always available by calling 211. Call211 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Remember to make your well-being a top priority. It is especially important during the winter months when the lack of sunlight can impact your mood. If you find that your symptoms are significantly affecting your daily life, contact CMHA Toronto for professional advice on ways to manage and improve your mental health.

For more helpful tips about ways to manage SAD or winter blues check out the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health’s The Winter Blues: A guide for students.

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