When it comes to winter, we have it pretty easy here in Victoria. While the rest of the country is shoveling driveways and checking for exposed skin, we’re biking to work and smelling the flowers.
Of course, nothing is free—not even our luxuriously mild winters. While we don’t have to worry about our car’s block heater failing, we do have to put up with big storms, weeks of rain, and fading memories of that golden orb in the sky. All of this gloomy weather puts a damper on our spirits that’s not always easy to shake.
Ahh, the winter blues. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, nearly 20% of people experience this dip in mood, which is a mild form of seasonal affective disorder. Colder weather and a lack of sunlight can lead to mild depression symptoms that, when combined with a more inactive lifestyle, can affect your mood, appetite, sleep and concentration.
The good news is that there are many ways to get out of your funk, even on the dampest and dreariest of days.
1. Get Active
Exercise boosts feel-good chemicals in the brain and helps combat the negative effects of stress that can trigger the blues. According to the chief executive of the UK’s Mental Health Foundation, there’s convincing evidence that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, three times a week, is effective against depression.
So get up and get your body moving! Victoria’s mild climate makes it easy to bike, hike, jog or walk at any time of the year. And if you’re more the indoor type, you can always hit the gym, go for a swim, or check out a fun fitness class at the local rec centre.
2. Lift Your Senses
Certain scents are proven to do wonders for your well-being. Apples and cinnamon in particular have been shown to ease anxiety and brighten your mood. But before you rush out and buy scented oils or room spray, consider going the natural route. Simply fill a pot with water, apples and cinnamon sticks and let it simmer the stove. And when you’re done reaping the benefits of this sweet scent, you can always turn it into applesauce.
3. Go Somewhere New
A change in scenery is bound to do you some good. You don’t have to splash out for an expensive tropical vacation, either (although some time in a toasty locale wouldn’t hurt). Even little things, like taking a new route to work or trying out a new coffee shop, work wonders for your mood and force your brain out of the doldrums.
4. Get a Massage
Massage therapy offers extensive mind and body benefits, especially during the dull winter months. A good massage will awaken your body and put you in a more positive state of mind. It will improve your mood, reduce stress, help you sleep better and even help ward off those seasonal colds and flus that make the colder months that much more miserable.