Canada is located far from the earth’s equator, which means that our days are very short and cold during the winter months. This causes some people to suffer from “the winter blues,” which means they experience heightened sadness, hopelessness or stress during winter. In severe cases, this is diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression which affects your mood, sleep, appetite and energy levels.
To prevent the winter blues that comes with fewer hours of sunlight, try boosting your intake of light during the day:
- Increase the amount of natural light in your home. Try opening blinds and sitting near windows during the day.
- Go for a walk outside (especially on sunny days!) Even if you work during the daytime, try to fit in a short walk during your lunch or coffee break.
- Turn on a lamp before getting up in the mornings. Make sure to do this at a consistent time each day. This can help regulate your natural rhythm of sleep and fight fatigue. You can also try a light therapy lamp, which gives off a bright light that mimics the sun. For more information about light therapy lamps, talk to your doctor.
- Limit the time you spend on electronic devices, especially right before bed. Electronics create “blue light,” which can interrupt your natural sleep rhythms and cause insomnia. Try to turn your devices off at least one hour before bedtime.
- Take Vitamin D3. We get most of our vitamin D from the sun, which is lacking in winter, so some experts suggest that taking vitamin D supplements can help boost your mood along with your bone health. You can buy D3 vitamins at your local pharmacy. Follow the directions on the container (usually 1 tablet per day for adults).
- In severe cases, see your doctor for an assessment. They will recommend the right kind of treatment for you.