Winter can be a tough time for some. As the days get shorter and the temperature colder, your mood and energy can also plummet. It’s said that about 15%~ of Canadians experience the winter blues. And with a global pandemic among us this year, many may be feeling more down than usual. In times like these, we can all use positive thinking – and that’s why CDSPI’s Members’ Assistance Program (MAP)* provider, Shepell, has developed tips for beating the winter blues.
Brave the outdoors. Bundle up and go for a walk outside, especially on sunny days. Winter blues are caused by the body’s response to reduced light exposure, so every ray helps lift your spirits. When setting out for some fresh air, be sure to follow the appropriate COVID-19 restrictions in your area.
Limit starchy, fatty and sweet foods. Those “comfort foods” that are supposed to help you feel safe and warm—cookies, mashed potatoes, etc.—could be dragging your mood down and pushing your weight up. Reach for fresh fruit and vegetables instead.
Get involved. Sign yourself up for a new virtual class or activity. Not only will it get you socializing with people you may not have met otherwise, but it will also encourage you to discover new interests and avoid isolation during these challenging times.
Get help. If your symptoms are greatly limiting your ability to function at home and at work, then you may be suffering from a seasonal form of clinical depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD’s symptoms are more severe than winter blues and may also include irritability, feelings of emptiness or profound sadness, and major changes in eating and sleeping routines. If you think you might be experiencing SAD, consult your physician or a professional for support.
Get moving! Whether you jump on a stationary bike, unwind with yoga or dance the night away at home, physical activity fights off weight gain, boosts energy and releases mood-enhancing endorphins. By embracing outdoor winter activities, you’ll increase your sun exposure, get active and spend more time with the family living under your roof. Consider cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or going for long winter walks. Just make sure that when doing so, you are keeping a safe distance from others.
Keep in touch with family and friends. Find new ways to have fun this season by organizing virtual activities that friends and family can enjoy. Consider arranging virtual dinner parties, happy hours, game nights, etc. All are great ways to get everyone socializing in a safe way during winter’s darkest months. And since you can’t be with everyone in person, do your part to check in by phone call, text, or video. Consider staying connected by running errands for those in need, or perhaps performing other small acts of kindness such as preparing baked goods or meals that you can drop off for them.
By using your down time during the winter months to catch up with friends and discover new hobbies, you can shift your mood and restore your energy levels. However, if you are experiencing the blues for long periods of time or notice changes in your appetite or sleep patterns, consult your doctor immediately for support.
Your Members’ Assistance Program (MAP) is here for you 24/7, 365 days a year. If you’re having difficulty coping during these winter months, they offer tailored support and counselling. We invite you to access MAP by calling 1.844.578.4040 or visiting one.telushealth.com.
*This information is provided by TELUS Health.