This is the time of year when many Ontarians may notice a shift in mood and find themselves lacking energy.
Research in Ontario suggests that 15 percent of the general population experience these winter blues, which can include changes in appetite and lethargy. The winter blues differs from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which affects about two percent of the population and is a serious form of depression.
People experiencing the winter blues can benefit from:
- Maximizing exposure to sunlight. Spend more time outdoors during the day and arrange indoor environments to receive maximum sunlight. Trim tree branches that block light, for example, and keep curtains open during the day. Move furniture to sit near a window.
- Exercise. Exercise relieves stress, builds energy and increases mental and physical well-being. Make a habit of taking a daily noon-hour walk. The activity and increased exposure to natural light can raise spirits.
- Eating well. Healthy eating has been shown to benefit mental as well as physical health. Be sure to incorporate fruits and vegetables in daily eating habits.
The prevalence of the winter blues highlights the need to make our mental health a priority throughout the year. However, there’s not enough mental health and addictions resources in the province. That’s why CMHA Ontario’s Erase the Difference campaign is encouraging people to sign a petition educating candidates in this year’s provincial election about the need to fund mental health the same as physical health.
To sign the petition and get more information about the campaign, go to www.erasethedifference.ca.