It has been said that January 23 is the most depressing day of the year. Typically, this is because it’s the date you receive your credit card statement, which is usually filled with a few too many holiday gift purchases.
That might not be the only reason you’re down, though. Research shows that some 600,000 Canadians suffer from SAD – or Seasonal Affective Disorder. The rest of us, while not officially diagnosed with SAD, often suffer some sort of seasonal depression.
At RATESDOTCA, I feel like we’ve spent a lot of time talking about ways to manage debt, especially before and after the holidays. But what are some other ways to push your positive spirit into high drive today and during the rest of the depressing winter months? Here are a few spirit-raising tips.
Try to be positive
I know it can be hard, especially at this time of year, but a positive attitude will help beat the winter blahs. Try writing down one positive affirmation per day. Focus on all that you’re grateful for. Remember those New Year’s resolutions? Take a look at them again. Have you stayed on track, or forgotten all about them? Research shows that active people are happier people. Reevaluating your goals, and crossing some of them off your list will give you a new positive outlook on life. Why not give it a try?
It’s hard to get out there when it’s cold and dark outside, but being active will boost your energy levels and help kick those winter blues to the curb. Exercise is proven to reduce the symptoms of depression, and it makes you feel better. If you have trouble staying motivated, invite a friend or family member to join you. Honestly, I used to hate winter, too. That was until I decided to embrace it. I bought myself a pair of secondhand cross-country skis and a pair of skates and started spending more time outdoors. They weren’t overly expensive, and I use them all the time. If you’re not fond of the outdoors, join a yoga class or hit the gym.
Fix your home’s lighting
The most difficult part about winter is that it gets dark early. There are two things I like to do to combat this. First, I tell myself that each day is longer than the last (it’s true!), and then I invest in good lighting. You can buy light bulbs that mimic sunlight, which will flood your home with warm and inviting light, even on the coldest, darkest days. In the evenings, you can warm your home’s atmosphere by burning candles (I prefer the scented ones).
The longer days of winter are the perfect time to treat yourself to something nice. It doesn’t have to be costly, just something that makes you happy. Here’s how I treat myself:
I buy a couple of my favourite magazines and read them cover-to-cover. I get myself a good book and curl up on the couch with a pile of blankets. I make a big pot of steaming, homemade soup and freeze extra batches for really cold days. I invite friends over for board game nights or to watch hockey. Sometimes, I plan ahead for summer. In the summer, I like to compete in triathlons and garden. So in winter, I plan my garden out, order the seeds early and map out the start dates for each of the plants. During the winter months, I also focus heavily on training for my triathlons. Not only does it give me the incentive to work harder during the winter months, but it also means that I’m totally prepared come summer.
Everybody’s different. Treat yourself accordingly.
Talk to someone
Sometimes it just takes a good talk to get over the hump. If you’re feeling not so good, call a friend and tell them what’s going on. A good friend will know you well enough to walk you through some potential solutions. It’s quite likely that they’re feeling weighed down by the winter blues as well. Perhaps the two of you could put a plan of attack together. If you find that your sadness is overwhelming or makes it hard to function, consider contacting a professional. You may be one of the 600,000 Canadians who suffer from SAD.
I’m not going to lie, I LOVE winter. But I didn’t always. It was when I realized that, as Canadians, we’ve got at least 4 months (if not more) of winter to look forward to each year, so I’d better learn to embrace it, lest I be unhappy 25% of the time. Dress appropriately, get yourself a new hobby and get out there and have some fun! It’ll be spring before you know it, I promise.
PS. RATESDOTCA offers another way to kick the Blue Monday blues. Complete a short survey and enter to win $2,012 in cash to put towards that nasty outstanding credit card debt, or use it any way you'd like, now that's worth a smile.