Winter blues are real and understandable

CMHA Kelowna says if symptoms get serious, get professional help

Feeling blue or down during the winter season is understandable.

That’s according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kelowna’s communications manager Jessica Samuels.

“We have inclement weather, we have less daylight and certainly with the snow and ice, maybe you’re not able to take part in the activities you normally do or see the friends and family you normally do,” Samuels said.

She said this is called seasonal affective disorder or SAD. This form of depression affects two to three per cent of the population.

“What’s important to note is if you’re experiencing things that’s out of what’s normal for you, you should definitely see a healthcare professional.”

She said what’s “out of normal” could mean sleeping more (or less) or eating more (or less) and in general, more or less of anything you or your loved ones would normally do.

Samuels said there are a few things you can do to address seasonal depression.

“First of all, get outside when you can. Get into the light, those are few precious hours these days and that can be helpful. Be active when you can. If you’re an outdoors person and the trails are inaccessible, perhaps look for other options in our community to get that indoor activity,”

“As well, where you can, make connections. Make different dates with friends and family members and to really have that sense of community and interaction.”

Loreen Wales is a registered dietitian based in Edmonton, and she said there are four areas people need to think about regularly, but especially in the winter season.

“One of the first things is looking at our sleep. So many people seem to think they only need three or five hours of sleep… but it’s impossible long-term to function at our best,” Wales said.

“Number two is engaging our mind. What I mean by that is we need to start paying attention to how we’re behaving throughout the day. Take a couple of minutes at the end of your day and reflect on what went on: how did you feel, what were your stress levels? What did you do for movement that day?”

“Number three is looking at how we’re fuelling our bodies. Ensuring that we’re eating balanced at least 80 per cent of the time, but don’t expect perfection because that doesn’t exist.”

“And lastly, how are we moving our bodies? My favourite quote is from Hippocrates: ‘if you’re in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you continue to be in a bad mood, go for another walk.’”

And if those things don’t quite help, there’s no harm in seeing a healthcare professional for some help.

READ MORE: Lake Country mental health facility takes holistic approach to recovery

READ MORE: Telus invests in North Okanagan youth’s mental health


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

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