Whether you refer to it as the back to work blues, the January blues or the winter blues, people often share feeling a little down after the holidays. And while Blue Monday is a myth, research confirms that Canadians are prone to a downward shift in mood in the winter months.
Research suggests that 15 per cent of the general population experience the winter blues, which can include changes in appetite and lethargy through the cold, dark winter months.
January can be a hard time of the year for a lot of people. It’s important that people take the time to care for their mental health.
The winter blues differ from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which affects about two percent of the population and is a serious form of depression. Symptoms of SAD include weight gain, decreased energy and fatigue.
To help, CMHA is offering these six tips to help beat the winter blues:
1. Spend time in nature. Bundle up and get outside. Compared to an urban setting, walking in nature has been shown to reduce anger, improve positive affect, and lower blood pressure.
2. Maximize exposure to sunlight. Arrange indoor environments to receive maximum sunlight. Keep curtains open during the day and move furniture to sit near a window. SAD lamps can also be very effective, and can be prescribed by your doctor in some cases.
3. Exercise. Physical activity relieves stress, builds energy and increases mental well-being. Make a habit of taking a daily walk. The activity and increased exposure to natural light can raise spirits.
4. Eat a healthy diet. Seasonal variations in mood can make you crave sugary foods and simple carbohydrates, such as pasta and white bread. Opt for complex carbohydrates as a better choice. Foods such as oatmeal, whole grain bread, brown rice, and bananas can boost your feel-good serotonin levels without the subsequent sugar crash.
5. Practice daily relaxation techniques. Try deep breathing, yoga or meditation to helpmanage stress, reduce negative emotions such as anger and fear, and boost feelings of joy and well-being.
6. Reach out for help. The winter blues differs from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which affects about two percent of the population and is a serious form of depression. If you are unsure of whether you are experiencing SAD or the winter blues, ask your doctor.