Winter Wellness: Five Ways to Overcome the Winter Blues

By: Melinda Lukas, Canadian Red Cross Digital Volunteer 

As we embrace the winter months here in Canada, many of us brave the cold and suffer from boredom. We eagerly anticipate the weather to warm up in March, April, or even later in some regions. This can bring on feelings of restlessness, frustration and, for some, utter disappointment. Many refer to this as the “winter blues.” Here at the Canadian Red Cross, we want to help you overcome them!

Here's five ways you can overcome the winter blues:

1.    Get enough rest 
Facing shorter days, less sunshine, and a lack of activity, we may feel restless and under-stimulated. We may begin wondering if we’re getting enough sleep. Know yourself and your body and when you should be getting more rest. Practice habits that will aid in sleep and help you achieve your sleeping goals. One way to do this is by setting an alarm on your phone for when you should be going to bed. You can also set a time limit on how much TV you watch in the evening. Remember to keep your goals realistic - find what works for you to ensure you’re getting adequate rest.  

2.    Know how to keep yourself busy, and when to take it slow 
It can be difficult to find ways to keep ourselves busy in the cold winter months, especially if you have small children. Activities such as tobogganing, skating, building a snowman, or snow-fort can keep us busy if the weather is mild, but how can we fill an entire day when it’s below freezing outside? Indoor activities can only go so far. Art projects, hide and seek, movie nights, and game nights just to name a few. 

Look to your local community for indoor and outdoor events to keep you and your family busy during the colder months. Remember to also keep in mind when it’s time to take it slow. Set aside days or times of rest for you and your family. Finding a happy balance between keeping busy and adequate rest will contribute to overall health and help you overcome the winter blues.

3.    Be kind to yourself 
Develop healthy eating habits that contribute to your overall health. The same applies to exercise. It can be difficult to stay active in the winter months, however, find what works for you and develop a plan to do it regularly. Whether it be a short walk, a winter activity, or an at-home work out on your bedroom floor - stay active! Finally, surround yourself with people who are kind, helpful, and supportive. Go for coffee with a friend or catch up with a relative over the phone. Remember to reach out for support when you need it. 

What we can do to help 

Here at the Canadian Red Cross, we want to support you! We offer many resources that give you the tools to overcome the winter blues.  

4.    Education 
Our Psychological First Aid courses will teach you the impact of stress and trauma, and how to anticipate it. We will, without judgement, provide you with tools to practice self-care, handle difficult situations, and take care of others during times of stress and crisis. These courses are offered online or blended - with a mix of online and in-person learning. We also offer corporate training.   

5.    Support 
At the Canadian Red Cross, we continue to help people living in Canada overcome the winter blues through our Friendly Calls Program. You can sign up to receive friendly calls by calling 1-833-979-9779 from 9 a.m. to 5p.m. on weekdays, or visit our sign up page. We will pair you with a trained Red Cross personnel over the age of 18 who will encourage healthy coping strategies, offer other resources for well-being and community connection, and will reach out to you regularly to check in and provide emotional support – all for free! 

Learn more about the Friendly Calls Program or find out how to volunteer.

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