I have never been ashamed to admit that winter is my least favourite season. Even though I have endured almost 20 Canadian winters, I still have a hard time adjusting to below freezing temps. This cold transition often takes a toll on how I feel, leaving me grappling with a recurring case of the winter blues.
While my symptoms are tame, serious cases of the winter blues are referred to as seasonal affective disorder or SAD, an all-too-appropriate acronym. Believed to be brought on by a lack of sunlight, full-blown SAD affects 3-5% of Canadians, with 15% reporting more mild symptoms.
I haven’t experienced the full scope of the winter blues but serious cases can lead to weight gain, a short temper, fatigue, and feelings of despair.
Last month, Dr. Robert Levitan, University of Toronto’s Chair in Depression Studies, wrote that, SAD impacts “more women than men — and particularly women of childbearing age,” putting me directly in the line of fire.
With symptoms peaking in January and February, I need to figure out how I’m going to fight the winter blues now, especially as heavy snowfall gets closer and closer.
Here’s how I’m taking action at home this year:
1) Lights on, lights off
Light therapy is believed to enhance moods and promote a healthy sleep schedule, making it a common prescription for those affected by SAD.
Light boxes can be expensive but earlier this year they were rolled out to Toronto Public Library locations, which increases accessibility for everyone across the city feeling SAD.
Along with a light box, many believe that Himalayan salt rock lamps have psychological benefits. When the heated salt diffuses in your home, the lamp creates a relaxing ambiance and dilutes unpleasant odours. Himalayan salt rock lamps are also super affordable, with some going for as low as $21 on Amazon.
2) Work it out
I’m not the most consistent with working out. In fact, I rarely do. But leading up to winter, I am going to try to stick to a workout schedule so that I can consistently reap the benefits. Aside from getting fit, exercise can enhance your mood by releasing endorphins, which can be especially helpful if you’re fighting the winter blues.
At-home workouts are a great option because you get to forgo the anxiety of working out in front of other people at a gym and you can also avoid a chilly trip outside. If you live in a condo, take advantage of the gym (if your building has one).
3) Unwind underwater
If your home has a bathtub, winter is a great time to take advantage. Taking a hot bath at the end of the long winter day gives you the opportunity to unwind and warm up. Bustle also cited a study that found the psychological benefits of baths, which can help those affected by the winter blues.
“In 2002 a University of Wolverhampton study found that a daily bath, usually at the end of the day, significantly improved the mood and optimism of the participants.”
4) Grow some green
There are countless benefits to having houseplants, and those only increase when you find yourself dealing with the winter blues.
According to TheSpruce, the presence of plants can lower stress levels, improve concentration, and act as an overall mood booster. Greenery is also reminiscent of warmer temperatures, which always makes me feel more at ease.
We hope that these tips help winter go by a little bit faster and make dealing with the winter blues a little bit easier!