“Blue Monday” – the third Monday of January (January 16) – once touted as the most depressing day of the year, has proven to be a myth. But with the holidays over and the grey winter weather setting in, some Canadians may notice a shift in mood and energy. These ‘winter blues’ are all too real.
“Canadian winters tend to be long, dark and cold, but there are ways to make things better, “said Tim Simboli, Executive Director of CMHA Ottawa. “It’s essential that people take care of their mental health at this time of year.”
Research in Ontario suggests that 15 percent of the general population have experienced the winter blues, which can include changes in appetite and lethargy as the days grow shorter.
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. Symptoms include weight gain, decreased energy and fatigue.
People experiencing the winter blues can benefit from:
Maximizing exposure to sunlight. Spend more time outdoors during the day and arrange indoor environments to receive maximum sunlight. Trim tree branches that block light, for example, and keep curtains open during the day. Move furniture to sit near a window. Installing skylights and adding lamps can also help.
Exercise. Exercise relieves stress, builds energy and increases mental and physical well-being. Make a habit of taking a daily noon-hour walk. The activity and increased exposure to natural light can raise spirits.
Eating well. Healthy eating has been shown to benefit mental as well as physical health.
Be sure to incorporate fruits and vegetables in daily eating habits.
For more information on mental health and mental illness, visit https://ottawa.cmha.ca/document-category/mental-health/.