About 18 per cent of Canadians will experience some form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in their lifetime. William Osler Health System’s Dr. Sayeed shares his five tips for mental health during the winter season:
Get outside and be active.
The days may be short, but getting outside, being active and enjoying the outdoors is a great way to boost your mood and reduce stress. Expose yourself to as much day light as possible. Going for a walk, a hike or, if you’re feeling adventurous, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing, are great ways to enjoy winter’s beauty and get your vitamin D intake. Exposure to sunlight helps boost serotonin, a “feel good” hormone produced in the brain.
Studies have shown that eating well and having a nutritious diet are important for your mental health. A diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish, and moderate portions of lean meats and dairy, are essential for good physical and mental health.
Good sleep habits.
Poor sleep habits or not enough sleep are associated with an increased risk of mental illness. Have a regular sleep routine that includes a winding down period with limited use of electronics in the bedroom and try to sleep in a dark, quiet room to promote better rest.
Make connections and socialize.
Good relationships and connections are important to your mental health and wellness. Socializing with others often provides the opportunity to share experiences, feel emotionally supported and provide others with support. Try to connect with family and friends regularly and engage in thoughtful conversations.
Start a new hobby.
Challenge your mind and find a creative or educational outlet by starting a new hobby. This can help you shift your focus away from day-to-day stresses and help to replenish your spirit.