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Fight Being SAD This Winter (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

When it’s so cold out, the idea of going outside can seem like a bad idea. Hats, scarves and fuzzy socks become your best friend. While you’re bundling up to fight the physical pains of winter, make sure you don’t forget to protect your mental health as well.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association; “Weather often affects people’s moods. Sunlight breaking through clouds can lift our spirits, while a dull, rainy day may make us feel a little gloomy. While noticeable, these shifts in mood generally do not affect our ability to cope with daily life. Some people, however, are vulnerable to a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. For them, the shortening days of late autumn are the beginning of a type of clinical depression that can last until spring. This condition is called ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder,’ or SAD”.

To prevent yourself from getting stuck in the winter blahs remember to take time every day (or as often as possible) to self-care. It doesn’t have to be very long but when you care for your mental health as well as your physical health, you’ll find yourself being more motivated, more productive and hopefully happier! Here are some examples of things you could do.  

1. Take a warm bath or shower: Warm water can be a great way to relax your muscles, warm you up and will more than likely lead to a stellar karaoke session, overall lifting your spirits.

2. Write a To-Do list and get stuff done: If you’re not going outside, it’s easy to let yourself feel unmotivated and useless. If you find yourself crossing things off your list (such as finally reading that book you’ve wanted to start) then that means you’re filling your time doing something productive.

3. Exercise. Now this doesn’t mean running a winter marathon or spending hours a day going through various Pinterest workouts. It means spending a little bit of time (20 minutes isn’t too bad) every day moving and shaking. This will get your blood & endorphins going which has been proven to fight depression.

4. Spend time FACE to FACE with your friends and loved ones. Texting is great but few things in life are as meaningful as spending some time connecting with the people you care about. Put away the phones!

5. Baking and/or cooking. Bust out your Master Chef skills or resort to the old faithful chocolate chip cookie recipe. Creating something yummy gives you something to do and something yummy to eat!

6. Try out winter photography. Winter definitely can be a beautiful season. Falling snow can look magical and the scene from our bedroom may actually be a winter wonderland. Grab your camera or even your phone and see what your lens can capture. You may even develop a new passion.

7. Knitting/Sewing/Crafting. If you’re not going outside, pass the time by seeing what you can create. The dollar store, Michaels and Wal-Mart all have a lot of variety of inexpensive crafting materials and the Internet is a valley of endless crafty ideas.

8. Take some Vitamins. Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a lack of vitamins you typically get from the sun. Taking some vitamin C or D pills will improve your mood, help your digestion and boost your immune system. Working them into your diet is simple and typically not all that expensive.

9. Brainstorm every day about something you’re thankful for. When you’re suffering from SAD, it can be hard to think of the better parts of your life. If you take some time to brainstorm what you’re thankful for, it may change your perspective.

10. Get involved and volunteer for a group or charity in your community. Giving back to the community can benefit a lot of people. Volunteers are the lifeline to a lot of really important community groups like the Ottawa Mission and the Boys and Girls club. There’s even a ton of ways to get involved in campus. Being productive and helping others is a sure way to beat the blues. It can also look great on your resume.

It looks like winter is going to stick around for a little while longer (C’mon Mother Nature!) but eventually spring will come, the sun will shine and it will be possible to go outside without becoming instant popsicles. Until then, you could try some of these techniques; you could try all of them! Self-care is a very individual based thing. Find things that help you feel happy, peaceful and healthy.

If you believe that you or someone you know has Seasonal Affective Disorder, talk to them about talking to a professional. The University of Ottawa offers free professional counsellors that can help you whenever you need it.

And hey, even if winter is your absolute favourite season it’s still a good idea to self-care. Because your wonderful self deserves some self-care and love. How do you self-care in the winter? Comment below to share your tips and tricks!



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Emily first got involved in the University of Ottawa's Her Campus chapter in 2015 and is currently part of the Entertainment team. She is in her final year of Conflict Studies and Human Rights with a minor in Women's Studies, works for Public Safety Canada as a Junior Communications Officer and is the President of Theta Sigma Psi sorority.
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