January 17, 2022
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January 17 is Blue Monday, and many Canadians may be feeling the winter blues more intensely than years before due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While the “saddest day of the year” is more of a myth than a reality, the winter blues are real and can involve sadness or unhappiness attributed to the dark and cold weather.
Canadians are struggling with changes to routines and added feelings of uncertainty as impacts from the pandemic continue. As a result, many feel the wave of low emotions that are linked to the winter blues.
According to a recent study by the Canadian Mental Health Association, two in five Canadians, or 40%, say their mental health has deteriorated since the onset of the pandemic.
Blue Monday is traditionally thought of as the saddest day of the year due to stressors such as post-holiday blues, weight gain, cold dark days, failure to stick to New Year’s resolutions and the arrival of holiday bills.
Increasing physical activity, social connectivity and sunlight exposure are essential to combating the winter blues. Even with COVID-19 restrictions and winter weather, physical activity needs to be a priority.
Physical activity is proven to release endorphins, serotonin and dopamine – ultimately improving one’s mood. Within five minutes after moderate exercise, you are likely to experience a mood-enhancing effect.
Other mental health benefits of physical activity include improving sleep, relieving muscle tension, serving as a distraction from stress and calming the autonomic nervous system that regulates our bodily functions.
While physical activity can be one of your tools to help combat the winter blues, you can always reach out for additional supports and services if needed.
Although physical activity has proven mental health benefits, Canadians are more likely to use sedentary activities, including overindulging in recreational screen time, as a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety instead of physical activity. Less than half engage in physical activity as a form of mental health coping behaviour.
With 84% of Canadians feeling a decline in their mental health since the start of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to not let Blue Monday get us down and fight back! Combat the winter blues and Move for your Mood by following these tips to keep yourself active physically, mentally, and socially, while following local COVID-19 safety guidelines:
b. Make it Sunny – Natural light has many mood benefits as well. Despite colder temperatures, it’s important to include some daytime outdoor physical activity as long as it works within local COVID-19 safety guidelines. That can be something as simple as walking around the block, shovelling the driveway, or going for a hike.