Although the weather is getting warmer in the B.C. Interior, Blue Monday is a reminder of the mental impacts the winter season can have.
The Canadian Mental Health Association says today, Jan. 20, is often referred to as Blue Monday — the most depressing day of the year — and it wants to bust that myth. People can feel blue all winter long.
Blue Monday was a concept created to encourage people to travel more in January, according to a Canadian Mental Health Association media release, although seasonal affective disorder impacts around five per cent of the population. It's a a type of depression that comes along with the shorter days and colder temperatures. An additional 15 per cent of people get the winter blues, which is a milder form of seasonal affective disorder.
According to the Canadian Psychological Association, people with depression are at risk of heightened symptoms from fall until spring. It notes that people feeling the effects of seasonal affective disorder are likely to lose interest in their hobbies, intimacy and appetite, as well as having feelings of guilt, hopelessness, isolation and stress.
Although it may seem hard to get out of the funk, there are some tricks and lifestyle changes you can utilize to get a spring back in your step.
One of the key things noted by the association is diet. Although the winter months may make you want to indulge in starchy, fatty or sweet comfort foods, eating a vitamin-rich diet can help keep you physically and mentally energized.
Another way to fight off the winter funk is to get a dose of daylight, either by going outside, sitting by a window or keeping your blinds open. For those who may not get much of a chance to catch the daylight, consider looking into a light box, which mimics the effect fo natural light. The association recommends speaking with a professional before purchasing a light box.
One key thing to remember during the short days and long winter months is communication. Although it may be difficult because of the symptoms, the association recommends keeping up with friends and family — either face-to-face or online — is a great way to refresh your mood.
For those with serious cases of seasonal affective disorder, it is recommended they speak with a professional to find further treatment options.
The B.C Interior Crisis Line offers immediate, free and confidential emotional support 24/7, 365 days of the year at 1-888-353-2273.
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