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Season change: How to cope during the colder months ahead

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Winter is a difficult time for many people – dark mornings, early sunsets, and of course, the frigid temperatures. You don’t have to have Seasonal Affective Disorder to get the “cold weather blues.” Anyone can struggle with a dip in their mood when there’s a dip in the temperature. And with the added challenges of COVID-19, this impact on mental health may be harder on many. We can’t change the weather – but we can change our reaction to it. Read on to make sure you’re cold snap-prepped.

We can’t prevent Mother Nature – but we can prepare for it.
With temperatures starting to slide, we’re all dreading its shift to the big W. We know what’s coming, and the potential challenges of social distancing that may make our usual coping methods harder. Plus, we may be a bit weathered from the toll it’s taken on us thus far. One of the best things you can do to face a potential challenge is to prepare for it. Start thinking about how you can adapt your routines to continue doing the things that promote your mental and physical health. Here are some tips that can help:

1. Stock up on supplies for your hobbies.

Did you become a COVID baker? Did you take up running or cycling to stay active? Make sure you have the supplies/gear you need a few months ahead of time. This could be investing in a new mixer or cookbooks, or getting some colder-weather sportswear to continue outdoor exercise. Winter doesn’t have to stop you from doing what you enjoy or staying active. So, do a bit of prep now, so you can keep the momentum going in the months ahead.

2. Stave off loneliness by staying connected.

It can be easier for us to make excuses not to see, or talk to, loved ones when we’re feeling more lethargic or down because of gloomier weather. Try to prioritize maintaining your connections with family and friends. This could be through meeting up (as rules permit), or by phone/online. This will give you have a solid support system to lean on when you are stressed or down.

3. Reflect and be flexible.

Over the summer, many of us have happily adapted to new ways of socializing and staying active – park visits, backyard BBQs, gardening, cycling a new trail. Yes, we can’t do these things when winter hits. But, we go through this every year – and every year we find ways to cope. Although we have more restrictions, think of some wonderful winter memories. What were you doing? Can you do more of that now? Are there some adaptations you need to make so you can still get to the heart of that memory, with a few little tweaks? Were there things you did early in the cooler months of the pandemic that worked well for you? Reflect on healthy coping strategies that work for you – and be adaptable to making it work despite current challenges. Try getting a few friends together for a group chat to brainstorm ideas for winter-themed events, or do some research into how to move your hobbies inside. (Indoor gardening anyone?)

4. Maintain balance.
Our health is hinged on taking care of ourselves, which includes eating balanced meals, exercising regularly, aiming for good sleep and managing stress. Keep an eye on how your routines shift in the next few weeks. Maybe you exercise less, and watch more TV. That’s ok. Pay attention to it, and try to take a few small steps to address any imbalances early on, like adding 20 to 30 minutes of exercise or yoga, or reaching for a book when you want to reach for the remote.

We can do this, we’re Canadians after all!
This year, the season’s change may feel harder. You may dread it more than any other year. Try to keep your spirits up. Soak up the lovely fall days, and start thinking on ways to help you cope during the colder months ahead. Most of all, stay positive – a good mindset now will put you in the best position when we wake up to our first snowfall.

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We can’t change the weather – but we can change our reaction to it.

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Stronger Minds content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to establish a standard of care with a reader, you should always seek the advice of your mental health professional, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call emergency services immediately. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained herein. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information herein should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.