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Getting Help to Overcome the Winter Blues

Winter can be a beautiful time of year, yet for many of us, it can plant a seed of dread. It means shorter and darker days. Cold weather and heavy shovelling can dampen the brightest of spirits, and it’s often seen as a test of endurance to make it to spring. Days like these are when you might need help to overcome the winter blues.

 

This phenomenon is called the seasonal affective disorder. It is a type of depression that comes most often in the transition of fall to winter, and it often causes moodiness, low energy, poor sleep, and other depressive symptoms. The farther you get away from the equator, the higher chance you have of developing it, which is due to the lack of sunlight you get in the winter months.

 

There are some places in the northern or southern hemisphere where the sun doesn’t rise in winter. CNN wrote an article about a town in Norway that spends several weeks in darkness and how they thrive during the dark months. They mentioned that one of the biggest combatants to the seasonal affective mood disorder is to work on changing your mindset.

 

If you view winter as dark and dreary, then it makes sense why you don’t feel great during the season. Instead, gradually shift your mindset towards what you like about winter, which will improve how you feel during this season.

 

Here are our favourite things about the winter season!

 

Outdoor activities can help to overcome the winter blues.

 

Drive around to look at Christmas lights.

There are often many houses that are beautifully decorated, and there might be special light displays nearby!

 

Winter photography.

As a photographer myself, I love going out in the snow- you can get incredibly beautiful shots, both in nature and in the city!

 

Skiing and Snowboarding.

While these two may be synonymous with the snow, they are winter classics for a good reason!

 

Ice skating.

Whether you find an indoor or outdoor rink, skating is a ton of fun! You can pretend you’re on a date in a Hallmark movie or have a friendly game of hockey with those in your cohort.

 

Go for a walk.

There are few things more magical than going for a walk in the gently falling snow- just make sure you’re dressed warmly!

 

Tobogganing isn’t just for kids!

Whenever my friends would make an outing at the local sledding hill, I would always be one of the first ones there! While you can get fancy sleds that can steer or are round like saucers, a garbage bag or an inner tube is just as much fun!

 

Have a good ol’ fashioned snowball fight!

No holds barred, just find some nice snow and give ‘er!

 

Light a nice fire.

With your cohort, you can have a lovely time sitting around a fire! You can drink hot drinks, roast marshmallows, and tell stories!

 

A fire dancer at the Ice Castle in Edmonton, Alberta.

 

Indoor activities that help to boost your mood.

 

Watch a feel-good movie.

You may have been binge-watching all year, but by choosing certain movies, you’ll boost your mood! Happy films, especially Christmas ones, are designed to make you feel good on purpose, but did you know that re-watching your old favourites is also good for your mental health?

Your mind can latch on to what it knows and has control over, and the memories allow you to feel nostalgia, which can give you a sense of optimism for the future!

 

Bake cookies.

We recently shared about reducing sugar, but we also know the importance of spending quality time with loved ones and how the act of creation is great for your mental well-being!

Enjoy whipping up a batch to snack on while you watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or have fun decorating Instagram-worthy treats.

 

Play a board game or puzzle.

This social time is great for bonding with each other and keeping your mind active, whether you're playing with cards or having a round of Monopoly. Playing a board game is a great indoor activity for kids, too!

 

Write in a journal.

Write what you’re feeling or an inspirational quote you like. Scribble down a poem you’ve wanted to write or stick in a picture you found. The simple act of creative journaling is great for your mental health!

 

Seasonal cookies decorated with white icing glow in the light of bokeh Christmas lights.

 

Enjoying good food is a great way to overcome the winter blues!

 

Hot drinks.

Apple cider, hot chocolate, tea, mulled wine, and more! This must be my favourite thing about winter, because what is better than curling up with a warm mug of something nice to sip?

 

Pumpkin pie.

Walking into a house and smelling the wonderful spices from a pie baking in the oven immediately brings you back to great memories and has your mouth watering in anticipation.

 

Turkey and stuffing.

That quintessential holiday meal, full of various tasty dishes that make your mouth water.

 

Christmas cookies.

The sheer artistry that goes into these cookies is amazing! From snickerdoodles to intricate sugar cookies to cute gingerbread men, these seasonal cookies are always a great treat!

 

A cup of hot chocolate with melted chocolate running down the side and overflowing with marshmallows.

 

There are a lot of great things about the winter season!

 

Sunrises and sunsets.

We’re lucky enough to get daylight every day of the year, even if it’s not very long. The best part of the shortening days is that you don’t have to wake up ungodly early or stay up late to watch the sun change. Since the air is so crisp during this time of year, the colours are often more vibrant and beautiful as well!

 

Christmas and the holiday season.

All the twinkling lights and overall positivity that seems to enter everyone’s hearts is just magical! (For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, there are many other heart-warming holidays out there like Hannukah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, Chinese New Year and Diwali that are wonderful celebrations that are filled with light, warmth, love, and good food this time of year!)

Cards.

While society is gradually shifting to more virtual ways of communication, we often find cards filled with well-wishes in our mailbox this time of year. A great way to fill an evening is to spend it writing cards for your loved ones and sending out in the world. They will love receiving them, especially if they are older and have been lonely this year.

 

A person carrying a stack of three thick knitted blankets.

 

These are some of our favourite things about the winter season! Seasonal affective disorder is a very real thing, and we want to do our best to help you overcome the winter blues.

Apart from training your mind to find the positive things that come in winter, experts also recommend light therapy and making sure you have enough nutrients, especially vitamin D. Take time to be kind to yourself this season and to put your mental health first!

 

 

Any links included are for reference, additional information, or entertainment value only, without monetary compensation. Contact us on social media or at support@westretch.ca. Photos courtesy of Unsplash and Kayla Willsey.

This article is not intended to act as or replace medical advice. Please talk to your health care practitioner if you have any concerns.

 

Written by Kayla Willsey

 

 

Updated May 21, 2021