We’ve all been there: Fall is coming to an end, Christmas decorations are starting to go up, and Mariah Carey’s "All I Want For Christmas" has suddenly become inescapable (no complaints though). But somehow, somedays, you can’t help but feel sad and gloomy. While the winter months are usually synonymous with the cheerfulness and fun of the Holidays, many of us experience slight dips in our mood during the cold, winter months.
The winter blues phenomenon is one that affects an estimated 15% of Canadians. Unlike Season Affective Disorder (SAD), the winter blues are considered a milder form of depression characterized by apathy, fatigue and changes in appetite. The end of fall signals shorter days and this means a lack of sunlight – a major contributor to sadness during the winter.
Fear not, because there are many steps you can take throughout your day to help boost your mood and keep you a little happier during the coldest months of the year:
1. Bring The Sun to You! There are many studies out there (like this one, or this one) that promote the use of light therapy to increase your mood. During the winter, the little sun that we do have is only available for a short time, so investing in a mood lamp may be worth your while. Mood lamps stimulate sunlight artificially, helping you feel like you’re getting your Vitamin D even though it may be cloudy. Add one of these to your workspace or beside your bed and you are likely to see an increase in your mood. Its effect is almost as strong as taking medication!
Verilux HappyLight Energy Lamp can be purchased HERE
2. Spend More Time Outdoors When it’s cold and dreary outside, we have a tendency to want to wrap ourselves in a blanket and stay indoors. While that in itself may be an excellent way to self-care, it can actually reduce your exposure to the sun (see point 1!). Therefore it is important to spend more time outside each day! Whether it’s going for a walk to get your groceries, or even taking the long way home from the bus stop, an extra few minutes of time spent outside will boost your mood and help you get that exercise we so often give up in the winter.
3. Try Aromatherapy This method is tried and true by yours truly. Aromatherapy involves the use of scented essential oils to lighten your mood. You can pick from a variety of scents ranging from lavender to peppermint to eucalyptus, and you can find the oils online or at your local Walmart or Winners. For me the scents are soothing and they always remind me to breathe and relax. Try them in your bath next time, in a diffuser, or splash some oil on your wrists so you can take aromatherapy with you wherever you go!
4. Make The Effort to See Your Friends and Family During the winter, we may tend to isolate ourselves (this goes hand in hand with wanting to stay indoors in the cold). Make sure to put in that extra effort required to brave the snow fronts and see your friends and family. A little human interaction goes a long way when you’re feeling gloomy.
As we delve even further into our cold, cold climate, I hope you find these tips useful in keeping a positive attitude during the long winter months. If you find that your mood isn’t improving, and would like to seek professional help, click here.