Beat the winter blues this season

January 15, 2024

Today is Blue Monday, statistically calculated as the most depressing day of the year. It is the peak time when debt levels after the holiday season are high, the weather is bleak, daylight is still in short supply, and failed New Year’s resolutions are commonplace, culminating in low moods for many.

Fortunately for us all, happiness is a choice — as difficult as that concept may seem to grasp when you’re feeling low due to circumstances beyond your control. But it is, we promise. There are many ways you can actively fight seasonal depression or the winter blues by taking baby steps within your control that will snowball into a perception and mood shift that you couldn’t possibly have predicted. This will happen if you diligently try to find happiness. Here are a few of our favourite ways to boost your mood in January: (mental) health and wellness edition.

Winter blues battle tips

  1. Be kind to yourself

First, do not beat yourself up for feeling low. Moods, energy and productivity are cyclical. It’s normal to have downtimes — that is what makes us human. It is also normal to wish not to have these downtimes. However, it’s paramount to your well-being to honour your feelings and not push yourself too hard. The key to achieving balance in life is to grant your body and mind what it needs. In some cases, it could be pushing yourself to get to that Hot Yoga class you’ve been dreading because you’ve been locked in Couch Potato mode for weeks. In others, it could be staying in bed all day watching movies and eating an entire pizza when you feel like you’ve been burning yourself out with work. Do what you feel your body needs, not necessarily what it wants.

  1. Up your Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is almost a given if you live in Canada or any other non-year-round sunny part of the world. Unfortunately, Vitamin D is a precursor to Serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating your mood and sleeping patterns. See where I’m going with this? We are, literally, missing the biochemistry to make us happy in the wintertime with less daylight. Finding a good Vitamin D supplement is an excellent start to taking your happiness into your control. Additionally, a happy lamp is a wonderful extra tool to help you bring the sunshine indoors. Sit in front of it for up to half an hour within the first hour of waking every day and you will feel energized, your sleep and wake cycle will be reset to its natural state, and your mood will improve. Talk to your healthcare provider to figure out what dosage is right for you.

  1. Create

Creating is a fabulous way to energize yourself — it can be fun, challenging, inspiring, a learning experience and, in some ways, an opportunity to connect with others. If you’re a creative, you’ll already understand that achieving a flow state through creating is an incredible mood enhancer. A flow state is achieved when a person is performing some activity that has them fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process. This can be hard, however, if you’re not an innately creative person, or you’re feeling ultra-low.

The good news is you don’t have to create art to create. What are simple ways you can learn to create if you’re more of a left-brain person, or a right-brain person in a rut? Cook that new recipe you saved on Instagram six months ago. Pull yourself together with a fantastic outfit you wouldn’t usually wear if you’re a work-from-home person and not getting out much. Sign up for that paint and wine night with friends. Try something new — like a pottery class or a charcuterie board-making workshop. Literally, set a timer on your phone for 20 minutes and just put pen to paper, writing an affirmation story about how you have achieved everything you want in life. The key is to find the right balance of baby steps pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, so that your ego doesn’t take over when you “fail” at not being good at something and can still find it fun.

  1. Reset your nervous system with a cold plunge

We understand that these aren’t fun, but they are incredible for you in many ways. With the same energizing kick of a cold shower but longer-lasting benefits when done regularly, we love a good cold plunge to help reset the nervous system (provided your healthcare provider approves it in your case). A cold plunge can help to reduce inflammation, improve your circulation, boost your metabolism, experience less post-workout soreness and best of all: enhance your mood and reduce stress.

*Please ensure your meet the health requirements before trying a relatively extreme health practice like this.

  1. Move your body

You better believe they aren’t lying when they say that exercise is nature’s antidepressant! The good news is that we’re not suggesting you become an elite bodybuilding athlete to boost your mood. You could literally start by going for a walk to the grocery store instead of driving, or incorporating 5-minute dedicated dance appointments in your calendar at the beginning, middle and end of your day — to wake you up and start your day feeling happy, de-stress halfway through the day and celebrate conquering another work day! We tend to become hermits in the winter and tell ourselves it’s okay because we’ll get back to it in the spring when it’s nicer outside or when we want a “summer” body. However, the reality is that we should be moving year-round for general mental health.

  1. Nourish your body, but do not deprive it

Again, if I haven’t reiterated this enough — balance is the goal. Deprivation often leads to irritability and moodiness, which is the opposite of what we want to achieve. To up your health game, which translates to improved mental health, we advocate for adding health and wellness practices that improve your quality of life, not extreme restriction or completely cutting out most things. Try having a delicious but nutritious protein smoothie a day, incorporating a greens supplement into it to increase your veggie intake. Want to start with an even more attainable baby step? Opt for a burger instead of a pizza. Although just as caloric, the quality of your calories is exponentially better because you will be having a meal loaded with protein that will fill you much longer than a pizza with minimal relative protein. Good luck and have fun!

Photo credits: all photos from Unsplash.


Story by Amy Pigeon

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