Beat the Winter blues and prioritize health

During the winter months in Canada—Saskatchewan especially, because, let’s be honest, it gets pretty darn cold here!—we experience a combination of challenges, including shorter days, colder temperatures, reduced exposure to vitamin D, and sometimes seasonal depression. This can make this time of year feel long and overwhelming, impacting our mental and physical health. 

However, you can take steps to prioritize your health during the winter. If you struggle during this season, Saskatchewan Blue Cross is here to provide guidance that can help make the winter months more manageable, because there’s no fun wishing away months of the year. Let’s look at steps to get back on track and feel good again!

The hardest winter month

While it varies from person to person, February can be a tough month for many of us. It’s the shortest month but can feel like the longest stretch of winter as the temperature drops, the skies stay gray, and spring feels like it’s still so far away.

December is full of exciting holidays and time off, and January is filled with hope for the year ahead. But by the end of January, it starts to feel bleak and it can be tough to find things to look forward to until April.

Don’t worry though. There are plenty of things to do during this time in Saskatchewan! It might just take a little reminder to help you beat those winter blues.

More than the winter blues

Do you sometimes feel down during the winter months? If so, you’re not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can make you feel like it’s impossible to shake off the winter blues. But there are ways to take control and make yourself feel better. 

SAD is based on seasonal patterns which can make it feel unavoidable and something that must simply be suffered. But here’s the thing: you can make it feel less heavy throughout the winter.

Beat the winter blues

Are the winter blues getting you down? Fear not! We’ve some great tips on beating the winter blues and keeping your spirits high during the colder months. Taking even small steps to counteract SAD and the winter blues can positively impact how you feel throughout the winter season.

To beat the winter blues, start by incorporating a small healthy habit from the following categories, and gradually add more to your winter lifestyle. Trust us, your mind and body will thank you! Let’s dive into it.

Outdoor activities

Staying active during winter can be challenging due to the cold, icy, dry, and dark weather. But there are things you can do to stay active. 

First, bundle up if it’s cold outside and go for a walk. Fresh air can help refresh your mind and body. If it’s not possible to go outside, open a window for a few minutes to circulate fresh air in your home. 

If it’s icy, try activities like skating, cross-country skiing, sledding, or snowshoeing. You can also enjoy other winter activities, such as snowball fights, building snow forts, tobogganing, hiking, and creating snow angels. These activities aren’t only fun but can be done almost anywhere and involve others, like friends and family. So, don’t let the winter weather keep you from being active!

Healthy lifestyle habits

Maintaining a healthy routine during the winter is crucial. It helps keep your body active and energized, and your mind focused. It can also give you a sense of purpose when you’re feeling scattered, restless, and unmotivated. 

Allocate time daily for essentials, such as healthy eating, hydration, sleep, exercise, and socializing. Set aside time each day for an activity that interests you, and keeps you engaged. This could include learning, creating, thinking, crafting, volunteering, or growing. 

Light therapy

During the winter, when there’s less natural sunlight, light therapy can be a useful alternative. Exposure to bright lights can help elevate your mood and increase serotonin in your body. You can get your dose of bright light by sitting next to a window and soaking in the sun when possible or using lamps and screens specifically designed for light therapy.

Mental health support

Saskatchewan’s health insurance provides individuals with access to mental health support through healthcare practitioners, such as psychologists, counsellors, and social workers, who can serve as an outlet to discuss SAD or other feelings. This support can enable people to develop coping mechanisms and behavioural strategies to help manage their condition. 

One of the most commonly used approaches is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT helps individuals relearn routines, challenge their thought processes, and modify their habits.

Vitamin D

Consider taking a vitamin D supplement during the winter to mitigate the effects of SAD, often linked to a decrease in vitamin D caused by lack of sun exposure. Talk to your doctor about how much to take. 

Saskatchewan Blue Cross mental health support

Saskatchewan Blue Cross offers mental health insurance in Canada that helps our community through mental health support. We provide helpful blogs written for Saskatchewan residents and cover healthy lifestyles and mental wellness. Our Saskatchewan health insurance also gives you access to counselling services and wellness programs to ensure our community is healthy and thriving.

To overcome SAD this winter, we suggest implementing some of the tips we provided to set yourself up for success, happiness, and growth. You can get mental health insurance in Canada from Saskatchewan Blue Cross if you’re a resident of the province to help with costs and connect you with helpful resources. 

Get mental health insurance in Canada to help with costs and to connect you with helpful resources. Contact us at Saskatchewan Blue Cross with any questions.