“It’s that time of year when getting out of your warm bed is not for the weak, and trudging through every day life seems monotonous, exhausting, boring and, well, just hard. For many people, winter is a very difficult season to muster the strength to feel joy and excitement about much of anything. Sad struggle is real, people. It’s real.” – Christine Carter.
As the days get shorter and the weather becomes dreary and cold, it becomes more daunting to venture out and explore the beauty and tranquility offered by Norfolk County and its surrounding areas. It is a sense of comfort that draws us to want to spend more time indoors, with a cozy blanket and a hot cup of apple cider. Surprisingly however, something so comforting can in turn feel isolating and unproductive at times. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) reported that about 1/3 of Canadians experience a mood drop in the winter months. This could look like increased fatigue, poor concentration, or difficulty focusing.
So, how do we take care of ourselves when our motivation and mood is at an all-time low?
Check out some suggestions from the therapists at Laka Wellness:
· Find a creative outlet: Having a creative outlet or hobby to keep you busy can help avoid and distract from the dreadful feeling often associated with the dreary winter months. Creative outlets help stabilize moods by offering a feeling of safety and control. Who knew that a small hobby could help regulate emotions and strengthen the brain? Creative outlets may involve activities like colouring, building a puzzle, or playing an instrument. For some of us, it may be a matter of reconnecting with hobbies that we have lost touch with.
· Use your senses: Awareness of the five senses is a fun way to engage life more mindfully and to allow you more time in the present moment. It is easy for our minds to go on autopilot and to fall trap to doing things out of routine, whether healthy or not healthy. Take time to connect with your senses and fully embrace the beauty of Norfolk County. Engaging your senses could be taking a scenic drive to watch the sunset or slowing down your auto-pilot morning to taste that hot coffee you purchased on your drive to work.
· Find a nutrient balance: It is very common for individuals to set the goal of healthy eating in the winter months, especially after the holidays. Maintaining a balanced diet can not only support your physical health goals, but healthy eating is also essential to your mental wellness. Research confirms that colder, darker, and shorter winter days require a different nutritional focus than summer months in order for individuals to feel like they are functioning optimally.
· Watch your favourite movie or TV show: Watching your favourite movie or a re-run of your favourite show can be a healthy way to cope with the winter blues. Movies and shows that we have already seen offer a safe and predictable emotional response, meaning that curling up to watch a Harry Potter marathon might just be what is needed for your mental wellness today.
· Stay connected: From a simple interaction with a neighbour to a meaningful dinner with family, we all have the same goal and that is to feel connected. When individuals start to feel a sense of disconnection, feelings of loneliness, boredom, and depression can become a new reality. Although we aren’t connecting with our usual family hugs, there are still some ways that you can stay connected and increase oxytocin levels in the brain- this is the “bonding hormone”. Find new traditions and meaningful ways to stay connected with friends, family, and meaningful social groups.
Wellness is all about balance; sometimes we tend to eat well, exercise, and keep ourselves healthy for a specific time, like preparing for the upcoming swimsuit season or a wedding. Wellness means setting a routine that is achievable most days, not just certain ones. A routine does not have to be something rigid; it can be the way you wake up in the morning, or how you wind down before bed.
If you need support finding balance, never hesitate to seek professional help. Norfolk County has many resources available for those struggling, including counselling, support groups, and psychotherapy to name a few. Reach out to your nearest mental health team - they will support your journey to wellness.