Here in Saskatchewan, winter is a drag, the snow, the ice, and the overall coldness. It is hard to leave your house, and being cozy is the ultimate goal. However, here is a helpful list of fighting off winter blues that can boost your mood and improve your mental health.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Often referred to as seasonal depression, it’s a type of depression related to the change of seasons—mainly in the colder, darker months, like winter. Some symptoms include:
- Low Energy Levels
- Mood Changes and Social Problems
- Changes in Sleep Patterns
- Changes in Appetite or Weight
If you already experience depression year-round, these symptoms tend to worsen in winter.
What can you do?
There are a few key things you can do to help curb seasonal depression and improve your mental health during the long winter months. Even if seasonal depression doesn’t affect you, the suggestions below will boost anyone’s mood.
Get a Light Therapy Lamp
Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, can be a great way to stave off winter blues. If you are working at a desk or need a few minutes of stress relief, try buying a bright light lamp that imitates natural sunlight.
There is a proper combination of light therapy based on timing, light intensity, and duration. Consult a doctor or the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure you don’t hurt your eyes and have the best results. It is most effective early in the morning for at least 30 minutes—keep a light schedule to have the most impact.
Exercise releases endorphins and is an excellent way to boost energy. Even moving your body 20-30 minutes daily can have tremendous benefits.
Taking up a winter hobby might be nice to get outdoors and get a little fresh air. This season I bought a complete winter gear kit to do winter walks and try snowboarding. If you want to try snowboarding, I recommend Optimist Hill, right in Saskatoon! Walking down the Meewasin trail amongst all the birds and trees is a surefire way to enjoy the outdoors. Having a friend to do these activities with is also a great way to get a chat in and boost your mood.
Pick one winter activity that you love or at least can tolerate, and try to do it a few times or more this winter season! If you feel like -20C is too cold, prioritize activities on good weather days. Sometimes it can be hard to take advantage of these if you work full-time, but if they fall on a weekend, there’s no better time to get outside!
Prioritize Social Activities
Staying inside all winter sounds like the best course of action but remember to prioritize socialization. The roads might be bad sometimes, but plan fun activities with friends and family when it’s safe. Having a close social group and having connections with various people will enrich your life in ways you can’t imagine. My favourite winter activities with friends are going to a cozy cafe, going to the art gallery, walking outside, and skating at a rink near my house.
Remember to Get Enough Vitamin D
We have already touched on the Light Therapy lamp. Still, real vitamin D is also required to regulate the amount of calcium, Magnesium and phosphate in your body, which is vital for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. The research on vitamin D and your health is limited, but it can’t hurt to try to get more in regularly.
Low sunshine throughout the winter months means less vitamin D from the sun, and luckily there are supplemental vitamins. Food can also be a great source of vitamin D, such as juices, milk alternatives, oily fish, red meat and eggs.
If you can, taking a vacation to a warm climate can be a nice break from winter blues and an excellent way to gain more vitamin D!
Be sure not to let winter halt your life entirely, and try something new this year to keep yourself active and healthy. These tips will hopefully get you out of that slump and encourage you to get out there.
Autumn is a time for coziness, pumpkin spice and candles; however, it should also be a time of home maintenance preparation before winter. Here are a few essential items to perform around the house before it gets cold.
1. Clean, or possibly replace your gutters
Cleaning your home’s gutters is a key task to do around fall’s end. Removing all the leaves and debris will prevent flooding from melting snow or rain in spring. If you are nervous about attempting this yourself, there are always professionals that can help. Allowing water to flow freely and moving it away from your house will prevent your exterior from getting damaged or flooding. If your eaves are damaged, consider getting them replaced as soon as possible.
2. Check for drafts
Drafts near windows and doors are very common, mostly in older homes. To prevent heat loss (or cooling from a/c), install weather stripping in those areas, caulking to seal up holes, or spray foam for larger areas. Over 20% of heat loss occurs through drafts around windows.
Tip: Slide a piece of paper between the door frames and windows. If it slides easily, you need to update the weather stripping.
3. Drain the outdoor faucets and underground sprinklers
Drain all the hoses, hose attachments and most importantly, the water faucets. Turn off all the outdoor faucets and the main valves inside your home. This will prevent freezing and your pipes from exploding— disconnect your hose attachments from the hoses to mitigate rust forming and permanently fusing them together. Blowing out your underground sprinklers is also crucial. If you are unsure how to do this yourself, hire a professional to do this task.
4. Bring your outdoor furniture and barbeque in.
Outdoor furniture is exposed to the elements for many months, with winter having the most extreme weather conditions—so it’s a good idea to store your set away to add to the longevity of its life. While you’re at it, put away your barbeque if you have the space to prevent rusting and damage. Outdoor living can become expensive if you purchase a new furniture set yearly. If you lack the storage space for your outdoor items, buy good quality covers and tack them down.
5. Fix cracks in your driveway and foundation
Cracks in your driveway and foundation can become big problems if not correctly cared about. Regarding your foundation, mice and other critters can quickly burrow into small holes and cracks. Driveway cracks can be unsightly, with weeds growing out of them or, even worse, split into potholes. It seems tedious to fill these small cracks, but you will thank yourself in the long run.
6. Change filters
Filters are often forgotten, but they should be changed frequently if the heat and air conditioning are on all day—especially in the peak summer and frigid winter. It is an inexpensive way to maintain these units and have them run efficiently.
7. Fertilize the lawn
Fertilizing the lawn in the fall is a great way to protect your grass from those cold winter days. The roots of your lawn are still growing even as it gets colder out. To keep your grass looking great in spring and summer, fertilizer is key. Doing this task will also help your lawn turn green faster in spring.
8. Test winter equipment
Autumn might seem too early to think about winter, but here in Canada, we can get snow as early as September. To ensure a great winter season, check your snowblower and shovel’s condition before it gets frigid—not only will it be more pleasant to check these things out when it’s warmer outside, but you won’t have to worry about a broken snowblower when the snow falls.
9. Change batteries
A good rule of thumb is to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices yearly. Since you are already completing a list of other tasks, checkmark this off your list while you are at it.
Here are a few recommended tasks to accomplish before it cools off at the end of the year. I recommend performing many of these maintenance items while it’s warmer out and save yourself the headache of trying to do them when it’s freezing outside.
If you are interested in purchasing a home in the fall, contact your local REALTOR® today!