How to shake off the winter blues

Does this time year bum you out? Feel better fast with our happy fixes.

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Don’t let the shorter days and chilly temperatures of fall and winter get you down. Send the blahs packing with these simple strategies and before you know it, spring will be here!

Move your body

Try to be active every day, says Jane Catcher, a personal trainer from Moncton, N.B., since exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good drug. “Even 10 minutes of outdoor walking or a few exercises during television commercials will help lift your spirits,” says Catcher, who believes strongly in the mind-body connection. If slippery sidewalks and trails are keeping you indoors, use walking poles and put traction devices like Yaktrax on your shoes, she suggests.

Let the sunshine in
To feel almost instantly happier, seek out sunlight. Rearrange your furniture so you can work or eat meals near a large bright window. Make time for a mid-day walk, trim tree branches that block light, keep your curtains open during the day, and add lamps or skylights, suggests the Canadian Mental Health Association. In one Japanese study, researchers found that exposure to as little as 30 minutes of natural light boosted the mood of subjects.

Keep connected
You’ll feel even better if you can help others stay active, says Sue Bates, a retired teacher from Toronto. On winter weekends she takes a carload of visually-impaired exercisers out of the city for a day of skiing. “Even though I don’t like the cold, I get a warm fuzzy feeling from helping other people enjoy the season,” she says.

Get serious
If you think you might be more than simply blue, talk to your doctor about the possibility of seasonal-affective disorder (SAD). Light therapy – relaxing or reading in front of tabletop light box that mimics outdoor light – is a surprisingly inexpensive and simple method that helps some people with SAD. Check with your health professional before purchasing a light box, advises the Mayo Clinic, since not all boxes are tested for safety and effectiveness.

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