The Harsh Canadian Winter

Is the harsh Canadian winter affecting your disposition? It’s not uncommon to find your mood matching the weather.

While this may feel like a by-product of the cold and wet weather, researchers have found it actually has more to do with the shortened daylight beginning in mid-October and extending into February, says Sarah Hamid-Balma, director of mental health promotion with the B.C. branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“About two to three per cent of British Columbians might have … seasonal depression. Another 15 per cent or so feel what we call the winter blahs,” Hamid-Balma said.

While a reduced mood may be caused by a number of things, the darkness brought on during winter adversely affects people’s motivation to get out and socialize.

“Things like daylight and how hot or cold it is, that might affect how easy it is for us to exercise or our willingness to leave home and see friends. Cold and dark and rainy days can make both of those things really hard.”

Provisions for the winter

A solution that Hamid-Balma recommends is what she refers to as “winterizing” your mental health. Just like you would with your car, certain preparation can be made to accommodate for the long, gloomy season. Things such as maintaining exercise (even if it’s indoors), eating well, and getting plenty of rest are all good ways to manage your mood.

Winterize your mental health

“We tend to think of these things for our physical health. We don’t realize just how important they are to our mental well being.”

Another solve, as recommended by The Canadian Mental Health Association, is to get as much natural light as possible, whether by sitting near a window or taking a walk during a lunch break.

“Even if it’s slightly cloudy, getting some extra sunlight is good.”

If you find your mood starting to slip noticeably during the winter months, don’t ignore the coincidence – it could be seasonal affective disorder. If it persists, be sure to make an appointment with a mental health specialist.

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