Category Archives: Mental Health

5 Ways to Beat Down Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

January/February Blahs Getting You Down?

Use These 5 Strategies to Slaughter SAD and Brighten Your Blues

If you live in a dark winter city like I do, Toronto, it can seem like the sun can disappear for weeks! We could find comfort in the fact that at least we have some form of natural light during the day unlike the far North currently enjoying 24hrs of darkness! The fact is – this lack of sunshine and daylight hours combined with crappy weather can really start to wear on you. Although it is estimated that only 2-3% of Canadians are affected with SAD a much larger population suffers from winter blues.

Utilize these 5 tips and your days will look brighter:

  1. SUNLIGHT – Yes I know it can be hard to find sunlight unless you go on a sunny southern vacation but the sun often pokes out on even the darkest of days. The key is watching for when it actually comes out. If you work in an office building take advantage of the sun when it is out by taking a quick break to get outside and walk on a sunny street or sit on a sunny bench. Literally 5 minutes of direct sunlight on your eyes not only feels good and elevates mood but it can take the place of a mid-afternoon caffeine injection. I ride my bike in the winter and when I am approaching a stop light I intentionally stop where the sun is shining and turn directly at it. Unfortunately from around October to March you get zero Vitamin D synthesis in Toronto so you should be supplementing. I also highly recommend light therapy. I use this litebook in the morning and late afternoon for about 20mins It helps to mimic sunlight and regulate circadian rhythm.
  2. EXERCISE – Everyone has heard of a runner’s high. Endorphins (your body’s natural pain killers) are released after any type of vigorous exercise (not just running) and that makes you feel good! Not only does exercise have likely hundreds of different benefits it also makes you look better which can help help ward off negative self image thoughts. It can also increase energy levels, build lean muscle mass, increase confidence, and help you sleep better. If you are a gym goer watch out for these 33 Interesting Gym Characters. Like Nike used to say JUST DO IT!
  3. FACE-TIME – No I’m not talking about using face-time on your phone. I’m talking about spending quality face to face time with your favourite peeps. Schedule a dinner or play date. Go out for coffee or a drink. We tend to be in hibernation mode but that can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation. Spending time with real humans instead of seeing them on screens is very good for mental health. You can also work through any issues or problems with the help of your loved ones.
  4. TREAT YOURSELF – You might be still trying to lose x amount of pounds from your Jan 1st commitment. As long as you are eating healthy for the majority of time – treat yourself a little. Maybe fire up some delicious poutine on a Friday. Or maybe a banana split? Let yourself live a little as long as you don’t do it consistently. You could also treat yourself to a great book, movie, concert, or event. Spend a day at the spa or do some Hot Yoga. Get a massage or book a stretch out session with me.
  5. GET YOUR LAUGH ON – Humor is another way to release feel good hormones and chemicals in your body. Check out some stand up comedy or a play. Find some funny movies or TV shows to brighten your mood. Obviously everyone differs in their taste in movies but here are a few of my favourite silly comedies: Old School (Will Ferrell/Vince Vaughn), Envy (Ben Stiller/Jack Black),  There is Something About Mary (Ben Stiller/Cameron Diaz), Tommy Boy (Chris Farley/David Spade). Billy Madison (Adam Sandler), Office Space (Jennifer Aniston), Planes, Trains, Automobiles (John Candy/Steve Martin), The Naked Gun (Leslie Nielson), Airplane (Leslie Nielson) and of course anything Monty Python. Any great ones I’ve missed? Share them below.

Follow these 5 tips and focus on the good news: Every day from now until the end of June the days have increasingly more daylight! 🙂


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Dr. Jory is on a never ending quest to acquire knowledge. His intellectual passions for science, health, astronomy, and evolution are balanced with physical passions of cycling, surfing, kayaking, and hiking.

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