Beating the winter blahs

By Sara Dimerman

February blahs. Winter blues. For those of us living in Canada, this time of year can leave even the happiest among us feeling a little on the sad side. It’s not just that we’re sick of having to pull on or zipper up boots, or put on coats, scarves and gloves every time we leave the house. We are also experiencing the accumulative result of too many long dark nights and short gloomy days. The good news is that we are apparently over the bluest day of the year and can now look forward to sunnier days ahead as we spring towards a few more minutes of daylight every day until the time at which we have more light than dark over a 24-hour period.

What else makes us feel so blue? Well, December is typically a month for over spending and over eating and so in January, we are literally and figuratively (pun intended) paying for it. In our excitement to give, most people spend more than what they have put aside when buying holiday gifts and so, credit card debt is at an all time high come January. As the reality of this hits hard, so does the realization that a gift that cost a couple of hundred dollars, will quickly (as a result of interest charges) cost a lot more if not paid off quickly. This can add to our stress and deflated mood. In addition, many people throw caution to the wind during December as they over indulge at parties and get togethers. No wonder that registration at fitness and diet centres is at its peak come Jan. 1st.

Unfortunately, by the end of January, many of us have slid back into old habits. The gym that we were so keen to join is causing us to feel more guilt than pleasure and we’ve given up assigning points for every morsel we consume. So, this is yet another reason to feel down. When we feel that we have not been successful at sticking to our resolutions, we are bound to feel angry or frustrated at ourselves – which sometimes leads to more eating and spending.

For some, not being exposed to enough sunlight can lead to sadness – even depression. If you’re feeling blue and think that this may be a contributing factor, you might consider looking into a special light – the SADelite, distributed by Northern Light Technologies, apparently works wonders.

Other ways to rejuvenate and energize oneself over the next couple of months includes being more active – even if not at the gym. Going for a brisk walk when the weather permits, or even rigorous house cleaning makes our bodies release endorphins which promotes a feeling of well being.

Other ways to feel better include reminding yourself spring is not too far away as you notice winter items on clearance in stores and see spring items take their place; making every effort to appreciate what winter has to offer including skiing, tubing, tobogganing, making snow angels or even enjoying the beauty of a snowflake; cuddling with someone you love in front of a fire place or under a cozy blanket. Or enjoying hot chocolate and marshmallows or a cup of soup together.

If you can afford it, planning a vacation getaway to a warmer climate for a week. Help someone less fortunate by volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating warm coats to people who are living on the streets.

And if all else fails, count down the number of days until spring on your calendar and mark off each day so that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Sara Dimerman has been an individual, couple and family therapist for over twenty years. Learn more or listen to advice from Sara and her colleagues by visiting

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