Beating The Winter Blues

by Avery Maxwell, RSW, MSW

Shorter, gloomier days between November and March may cause you to feel tired, irritable, depressed, and overly down or unsociable. Many people experience the ‘Winter Blues’ during this time of year as we experience less sunlight. A reduction in sunlight actually disrupts our internal clock and leads to a drop in our serotonin levels, a type of hormone that controls our mood.

The good news is that there are many ways to manage the winter blues!

  • Enjoy the light – Especially on those brighter, sunnier days, it is important to enjoy the daylight as much as you can. If you find yourself particularly struggling on those gloomy, gray days, you can try a sunlight lamp.
  • Eat well – Getting enough fruits and veggies this time of year is important as the winter blues can cause us to reach towards sugary or carb-y foods (chocolate, bread, pasta, etc.) more often! Also, talk to your doctor about finding ways to get more vitamin D in your diet.
  • Move your body – Find different ways to move your body through stretching, yoga, walking, and more. And if the weather permits, move your body outside!
  • Stay social – An effective strategy for managing your mental health is to socialize with the people you love. Make an effort to spend time with or keep in touch with the people you care about.
  • Find a hobby – Having effective ways to spend your time and occupy yourself is important. Especially for those who spend a majority of their free time during the dark hours after 4pm, it can help to spend your time doing activities you enjoy. It is a great time to try out a new hobby or find a new interest.
  • Make a list – Have a list of the activities you enjoy doing during the winter or the exciting plans you have coming up. On particularly hard days, it may help to see the good coming up.
  • Self-care, self-care, self-care – This time of year especially – with the busyness of the holidays, the New Year, and gloomy skies – it is important to prioritize yourself and practice self-care. Self-care does not need to be expensive or time-consuming: take a bath, spend time in nature, read a book, cook a comfort meal, listen to your favourite music… there are many ways to care for yourself and your well-being.
  • Ask for help – Don’t be afraid to connect with a therapist or your doctor if the winter blues are having a serious impact on your mental health and daily life.

As we move through the next few months of winter weather, try using some of these strategies in your everyday life to help manage your mood, fatigue, mental health, and more.