Now that Halloween is over and department stores will soon commence playing the Michael Bublé Christmas album (I can’t wait!), you have undoubtedly noticed the days getting just a little bit shorter and a whole lot darker.
In case you didn’t know: This phenomenon is caused by the Northern Hemisphere pointing away from the sun, resulting in fewer hours of sunshine. The lack of solar radiation reaching the ground also leads to the lowering of the temperature (aka why I’m always freezing).
As cool as this phenomenon is, for my fellow 9-5ers, getting up in the dark and leaving the office while the sun has already begun to set, starts to get old (and frankly super depressing) really quick. However, if you’re in the group of Canadians who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the winter months can be downright unbearable.
SAD, also known as “the winter blues” is a disorder that affects many Canadians in varying degrees and more commonly women than men.
The key symptoms of SAD include:
– Sleep problems
– Feeling unsociable
If you, or someone you love, are exhibiting any combination of these symptoms, please consult a healthcare professional. However, for those who may be mildly affected by the change in weather, here are 4 things you can do to help curb your winter blues symptoms and hopefully get some relief.
Brighten up your space
Due to the lack of sunlight during the winter months, one of the most common treatments for SAD is light therapy. This treatment has the patient sit or work near a device called a light therapy box, which mimics natural outdoor light for up to 2 hours a day.
Some great ways to mimic this therapy practice are:
Change your light bulbs – If you notice your lights are giving off more of a yellow tint, try changing them out for white LED bulbs. Or, if you’re like me and can’t change the light bulbs in your office, bring in a table lamp to add a bit more brightness to your working space.
Get some plants – In my opinion nothing brightens up a space like some fresh flowers or a nice potted plant. During the winter months I like to buy fresh flowers to put in my kitchen to brighten up the house.
Open your blinds – During the day, open your blinds in your house or office and let the light in.
Clean – Now I love to clean in general, but I find it can be very therapeutic to get rid of things you don’t need and to make your space (either your home or office) a little tidier.
There is something about winter that makes you want to eat everything in sight (or is that just me?). Rather than eating carbs non-stop (like pasta casseroles and bread), introducing complex carbs into your diet will keep you feeling full longer and reduce the need to snack.
What are some complex carbs?
– Starchy vegetables (like squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes)
– Grains (like Quinoa and brown rice)
After a long day in the office, the last thing I want to do is go outside in the dark. Fortunately for me (or maybe sometimes unfortunately) I have a dog who gets me out of the house as she needs her daily walks. However, for those of you who don’t have responsibilities to your furry friends, you’ll need something to get you out and moving.
Get a group together or join a league – The City of Ottawa offer Corporate or Group fitness memberships (which can save you up to 20%). Don’t live in Ottawa? Check out your local city website for promotions they might offer.
Winter sports – Once the snow starts falling (or the temperatures take more of a nose dive), get outside and take advantage of some great winter activities; skating, snowshoeing, sledding, skiing or snowboarding.
Sign up for a workshop – If you haven’t already tried a Paint Nite, I would highly recommend it (I’ve done about 5 of them). Not into painting? The City of Ottawa also offers different workshops you can try. Check out their recreation guide. For those of you in Toronto, check out your city’s FUN guides, depending on your region.
As we gear up for the holiday season, it’s important to think about those who are less fortunate than us. In addition to helping out in your local community, giving actually helps you. When you give, your body releases serotonin (the chemical made by your brain to maintain a “happy feeling”).
The act of giving can lead to these health benefits:
– Lower blood pressure
– Increased self esteem
– Lower levels of depression
– Lower stress levels
– Longer life
– Greater happiness
Still can’t find relief from your symptoms?
If none of these ideas provide relief for your winter blue symptoms, please consult your healthcare professional to get treatment that will work for you.
If you suffer from SAD and have tips that you use, please provide them in the comments below!