As the cold and snow of winter sinks in, Ontarians may find themselves lacking energy as the days grow shorter.
Research in Ontario suggests that 15 per cent of the general population have experienced the winter blues, which can include changes in appetite and lethargy. The winter blues differs from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which affects about two per cent of the population and is a serious form of depression.
Here are a few tips to help kick the winter blues:
- Enjoy time spent doing your favourite outdoor activity. 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.
- Try something new. While we’re being advised to continue to participate in physical distancing, it’s important to stay mentally healthy while maintaining a physical distance. Starting a new blog, watching a new television show or listening to a new podcast are just a few of the many ways to stay mentally healthy while physically distancing.
- Take a walk at one of the city’s trails. 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.
- Make a colourful meal. Healthy eating has been shown to benefit mental as well as physical health. Be sure to incorporate fruits and vegetables in daily eating habits.
- Reach out for help. To anyone struggling with mental health and addiction at this time, please reach out. Help is always available and CMHA is here with our programs and services.
- If you need help, call or text the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region.
- It’s ok not to be ok: If you’re in the Ottawa area, schedule a free same-day or next-day phone or video counselling session with Counselling Connect.
- Feeling low, stressed or anxious? Maybe BounceBack is for you.
- If you are experiencing an emergency, please go to the emergency department of your nearest general hospital or call 911.
The prevalence of the winter blues highlights the need to make our mental health a priority throughout the year. CMHA Ontario branches have programs and services available to ensure Ontarians get the support they need. Programs like Living Life to the Full are now offering their courses online. Living Life to the Full is a fun and engaging eight-week course that provides people from all walks of life with effective tools to maximize their ability to manage life’s challenges. New courses are starting this month. Visit the CMHA Ontario website today for details: bit.ly/2U0frdO