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Beating the Holiday Blues

 

Winter. Is. Coming! And we’re not alone in wanting to prepare for the change in weather. When the weather starts to change, many animal species begin to prepare for this. Birds migrate to warmer climates, bears retreat into a den, while wolves change colour to avoid standing out in the snow. How can we prepare for this change, particularly when at times it can affect our mental health?

 

Depression and Winter Holidays

 

I often get asked during this time of the year whether or not the weather actually affects moods. It absolutely does! Researchers have suggested that there are 3 factors that contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). These include: (a) the change in our circadian rhythm due to shorter days, which affect our sleep patterns, (b) the change in our serotonin levels, which is a direct result of decreased daylight, and (c) the change in melatonin levels, which not only affect our sleep cycles, but our moods as well.

 

So given all this, how can we best prepare for the upcoming changes that are to come? How do we combat the possible holiday blues? Here are a few ways:

 

1- Utilize journaling to promote positive thinking: I know it might sound cliché, but writing actually helps to clear your mind, and can also help bring to surface your subconscious thoughts and feelings. These then can help facilitate positive action!

 

2- Get outside: Trust me, I know how bad it gets outside in the winter! But whenever you can, try sneak in a quick walk, particularly on days when there is a Chinook. This not only helps get in some light, but can also help to promote endorphins, which ultimately positively affects mood.

 

3- Make your surroundings brighter: Try sitting next to the window, and if for some reason you aren’t able to, then get a light therapy lamp.

 

4- Reach out to others: Connection generates a sense of belonging, which is crucial for physical and psychological wellbeing. So make sure to reach out to others; phone up a friend, join meetups, or maybe initiate a conversation with someone in your gym or at the grocery store. All this can help to create a social connection.

 

Even without the effect of the change in the weather on our bodies, the winter/holiday season can be difficult. So if you find that you are unable to cope on your own, reach out and talk to someone.  You will find that sharing your thoughts and feelings with others can be a powerful way of generating catharsis and uplifting your overall wellbeing.

 

 

Farah Premji, MSc., is a trained EMDR therapist and is experienced in many other areas. For more information on Farah and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.