How to Beat the Winter Blues

With short, dark days and even longer, darker nights, you're not alone if you have the winter blues. Here's how to manage...

With short, dark days and even longer, darker nights, you’re not alone if you have the winter blues. Here’s how to manage…

It’s not just in your head. There’s sound, scientific evidence that proves that, for some, a lack of sunlight can disrupt the body’s serotonin levels (a neurotransmitter that affects mood), potentially contributing to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For others still, the prolonged stress of adjusting to a modified lifestyle as we contend with a global pandemic means mental bandwidths are shrinking just when we need to fortify our resilience. Protecting and supporting mental health has never been more crucial. 

But instead of looking at the long stretch of winter still ahead of us as something to endure until sunny days return, we could look at this–combined with mandated recommendations to stay in–as an unprecedented opportunity to address the source of our winter blues. Boredom? Anxiety? Physical discomfort? If you’ve already mastered baking sourdough, acquired the elusive Monstera Albo Veriegata and Marie Kondo-ed every closet in your home, we have a fresh new set of ideas for you to tackle that will hopefully help ease your winter blues.

If you’re struggling with feelings of depression, please reach out to a doctor for professional advice, or call the crisis helpline (24/7) at 1-800-784-2433. Online services are also available (Noon to 1 a.m.) for youths and adults.

1. Lightcycle Morph by Dyson, from $849.99

We’re working at home, studying at home, crafting at home, and the right light makes all the difference, not just for the immediate task at hand, but for prolonged eye health. Dyson’s created a light thatwhen paired to an appsyncs to your local time, allowing it to continually adjust its colour and brightness with a 32-bit microprocessor, so the light inside reflects the light outside. It’s been engineered to reduce eye strain, with an impressively wide spectrum of daylight colour temperatures from 2700 to 6500 kelvin.

This intelligent design is constantly adjusting the six LED lights (three warm and three cool) to seamlessly transition along with your location’s daylight, supporting your natural circadian rhythm, from the minute you wake up to the moment you fall asleep. You can use the light as an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning gradually, again, in sync with your own circadian rhythm. It also offers a wide range of activity lighting from reading to ambience, with a lumen range of 100 to 850.
Available online

2. Howser Wrap by Keen, $110

Now that the novelty of working from home in sweats has passed, isn’t there a small part of you yearning for slightly more formal attire? Remember shirts that buttoned up, trousers that weren’t elasticated and shoes that covered your toes? In fact, podiatrists at Cedars-Sinai point to the sudden elimination of proper footwear during lockdown as we all started working from home (presumably barefooted) as a major contributor to the rise in foot-related injuries. This ranges from simple stubbed toes all the way to more serious issues such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and metatarsalgia (pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot). Without the usual ankle and arch supports we get from shoes, going barefoot (even with slippers) has put considerable stress on the many tiny bones, ligaments and tendons that keep the mechanics of our feet functioning smoothly and painlessly.

The Howser is a shoe slipper hybrida house shoe. With the high-traction rubber outsole and supportive insole of a “real” shoe, combined with the cushiony, fleecy lining of a slipper, the Howser will keep you and your feet healthy and happy this winter. It has a roomy toe box and an elastic gore that makes this easy to slip on and off. It runs a bit snug so order half a size up especially if you plan on wearing socks with them. This is your solution to the ‘quarantine foot’.
Available online

3. Live-edge Charcuterie Board Kit by Lee Valley, $149.95

Sometimes, winter blues can just be winter boredom, with fewer options available to us. The DIY experts at Lee Valley are anything but bored; they’ve created a series of home-project kits to help us learn some new skills and create something beautiful during lockdown. The first kit, launched in late January, contains everything you need to make a charcuterie board. Starting a new hobby can be daunting simply due to the supplies required. But this kit not only contains an Eastern black walnut board (approximately 16 inches by 8 inches by 3/4 of an inch) but also all the tools needed to transform it into a one-of-a-kind serving platter, everything from a bevel-edged chisel to epoxy to the finishing beeswax paste.

The kit arrives in a cardboard box with all supplies and instructions nestled inside. (Tip: Save the box and flatten it and use it to protect your work area.) You’ll also have access to the step-by-step video as well as a link to a private livestream Q&A session where you can interact with a Lee Valley wood-working advisor, just in case you need a little extra support. 

This kit is suitable for adults, beginner to intermediate, as well as for children 14 years and older when supervised by an adult. The project will take approximately two days to complete, allowing a few hours on the first day, drying and curing time overnight, and less than 30 minutes on the second day.
Available online

4. Meal Kit Delivery by Fresh Prep, various plans available

Low energy and low motivation are hallmarks of the winter blues. But just when we’re feeling at our most lethargic is exactly when we need to be making more of an effort to eat nutritious meals that will give our bodies a boost. We all know that. We already know that nutrient-dense foods tremendously affect our mental clarity and emotional and physical health. But it’s always the prep that’s the barrier, especially during winter.

Fresh Prep is a Vancouver-based meal prep delivery service that provides everything you need to create fresh and healthy meals, based on recipes that were developed by dietitians, nutritionists and chefs. Their meals not only taste delicious but are nutritionally balanced to ensure you fuel your body with smart choices. Some of their recipes are also available as zero-waste kits (with more recipes being added), with ingredients arriving in a clever, reusable container that keeps ingredients separate and fresh until needed. When you’re done, simply rinse clean, dry and place in the Fresh Prep cooler bag that will be picked up on your next delivery.

The joy of having the mise en place already done can’t be overstated. It makes cooking (and cleaning) tremendously fast without compromising on quality. And the fact that it can be done sustainably definitely helps ease the winter blues.
Available online

5. Aquagel Pillow by Blu Sleep, $199

For those susceptible to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the low level of light this time of year can wreak havoc on your sleep. You sleep less, it takes longer to fall asleep and there’s less quality sleep. You simply wake up feeling sleep deprived. 

To help you achieve deep, uninterrupted sleep, try the Aquagel pillow, which is infused with mallow extracts that are known for their calming and anti-inflammatory properties. So the product that you nestle your head into every nightthe product closest to your olfactory senseis exactly the product that’s designed to relax and soothe you, hopefully to a better night’s sleep. Unlike most other foam-based products, this one comes straight out of the box with imperceptible off-gassing so you can use it as soon as you bring it home. Its water-based foam is also significantly more breathable than standard memory foam, allowing for greater ventilation and a much more comfortable sleep, all night long.
Available online

6. Cozy Woven Blanket by Casper, starting at $259

Sometimes, the best cure for the winter blues is just to be kind to yourself and give in to the gravitational pull of your warm, cozy bedjust make sure to have a warm, cozy blanket with you. A weekend of hibernating can do wonders for your mental health, and this plush, 100 percent brushed cotton blanket was made just for those kinds of weekends. It has a comforting weight to it, without being bulky, and adds a snuggly layer of extra warmth on your bed, while also making for an excellent napping blanket on the couch. 
Available online