“T’is the Season to be Cranky” (How to beat the Winter Blues)


Your holiday festivities are over, a long and cold winter stretches ahead of you, you’re back to work with almost no vacation days left and you just got your VISA bill in the mail – and no, you didn’t ‘win your purchases.’ If this is the case, you may be at risk of what I like to call Post Holiday Depression Syndrome – aka the winter blues.

A friend recently told me that January is one of the most depressing months of the year. She may have a point; soon after my conversation with her, I received my MasterCard bill and spent the next two hours trying to dispute each purchase to no avail. “There’s nothing we can do ma’am,” they told me. “Yes, you did spend that much.” Depression started to hit just like my friend had warned. Even Facebook statuses revealed that I wasn’t the only one suffering from the ‘winter blues’. As soon as the second week of January rolled in, ninety percent of my Facebook Newsfeed was doom and gloom.

Based on the ideas presented by Fitness Instructor & Health Educator Nicole Nichols, and Reader’s Digest’s “Beat the Blues” author Lisa Bendall, I’ve come up with 5 tips to help overcome the post-holiday blues. .

1. Get physically active

We tend to become lazy during winter. I’m not suggesting that you should go out jogging every morning in this freezing weather, but perhaps you can plant your dust-collecting elliptical in front of your TV and use it while you watch your favourite show. After all, exercise is a well-known mood enhancer since it boosts the brain’s serotonin and endorphin levels.

2. Eat Better

Try not to overload on carbohydrates and sugars since that can lead you to crash on your couch… before 8pm… on a Friday night. Trust me, I am speaking from personal experience here! Think about it; after a buffet meal – when you ‘eat your money’s worth’ – doesn’t the post-gluttony coma leave you hating your life? Try this instead: incorporate complex carbohydrates such as multi-grains into you diet while increasing your protein intake. For more tips, check out “I’ll Start My Diet Again Tomorrow”.

3. Light it up

No, this does not mean have a cigarette! It means let some sunlight into your living/work space. Exposure to sunlight releases neurotransmitters that help improve our moods. During these winter months, however, the sun seems to set before our work day is even over and these darker days have a visibly negative impact on the way we feel. Even bright lights in general are shown to be effective in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder. For instance, my office came equipped with a dreary mellow-yellow light and absolutely no windows. I brought in a desk lamp with a white light from home to help brighten up the space and since then my clients and supervisors have commented about the difference this has made on their mood.

4. Socialize

Don’t be a hermit and hibernate all winter. Humans are social beings and need to interact with each other on a regular basis. No, I don’t mean that you have to be out partying every night. Why not take up an indoor sport with some friends or book a gym for friendly competitions. Or take a class such as hot yoga or cake decorating with your friends Also, if you are up for it, embrace winter and go skating! It’s often free outdoors so it won’t burden your already strained finances. Socializing is also a form of relaxation so it’s bound to improve our mood.

5. Treat Yourself

You got Christmas gifts for everyone else so now it’s time to treat yourself. During the holidays you had something to look forward to: days off, partying, weekend getaways, etc. Part of the winter blues is having nothing upcoming to get pumped up for. What you can do now is give yourself something to look forward to such as planned days off, a big night out or a vacation with some close friends – if you can afford it! Our moods improve even when we are just anticipating something exciting.

Try out some of these tips to help you get through the rest of this depressing month. And for those of you who are single, remember some of these tips for the likely more depressing month of February!

– Julia Arasaratnam (tweet her @JArasaratnam)

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Julia Arasaratnam

Julia Arasaratnam

M.A., OACCPP; Mental Health and Addictions Counselor committed to promoting wellness. She considers herself as a curious explorer with a passion for learning, creativity, and celebrating diversity. Through her work, writing, and personal interactions, she hopes to have a positive impact on the lives of others.

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