As evidenced by last week’s extremely cold snap, winters in Alberta are not for the faint of heart. But beyond the threat of frostbite, some people find the cold, dark days of winter as hard on their minds as on their fingers and toes. If you are someone who experiences low moods in wintertime, you aren’t alone.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) estimates that 15% of Canadians experience this wave of low emotions that we refer to as winter blues. Other signs of the winter blues include an increased desire to sleep in, cravings for comfort food, extended Netflix sessions and a decreased desire to socialize with friends and family.

And though it is less common than the winter blues, according to the CMHA, only about 2-3% of Canadians experience seasonal affectiveness disorder (SAD), “a condition of regularly occurring depression in the winter season that can impair one’s daily life.” SAD is often treated with light therapy, counselling, medication or some combination of the three, but if you feel you might have SAD, you should contact your family doctor.

Here are some tips the CMHA recommends for maintaining your mood during winter:

  1. Let in light: Try to get outside as much as you can, and when indoors, keep the curtains open and try to spend time near windows as much as possible.
  2. Get moving: As tempting as it is to stay in when it’s cold, challenge yourself to do something physically active like going for a short walk or getting in a workout at the gym—your mental health will thank you for it.
  3. Maintain a normal sleep schedule: Although our beds can feel like a sort of sanctuary from the chilly weather, try to avoid oversleeping as it can actually worsen your winter blues.

How do you keep the winter blahs at bay? Let us know in the comments!


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