Many are struggling this month with the darker days and colder weather, especially after the winter holidays have passed.
Tasha Collins, program director at the Weyburn Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, said January is often a 'sad' month, with the third Monday of January often referred to as 'blue Monday'.
"That is due to some of those stressors like that post-holiday blues. It's colder out. It's darker days. Sometimes if you have that New Year's resolution and then you fall away from the New Year's resolution. Sometimes just the arrival of holiday bills and catching up on our spending," she said. "So sometimes we certainly do see January being a little bit lower of a month in terms of our moods."
"In Canada's population, they say about two to three percent of people might really be seriously affected by seasonal affective disorder, but there's more people like about 15 percent of people that do experience symptoms of sadness and unhappiness that can be related to the darkness or the cold weather or the time of year, and certainly we would look at those."
"There is a key difference between the winter blues and the seasonal affective disorder," she explained. "The winter blues is something that we can move through. I'm a firm believer that everybody experiences some low moods, and I mean, we're in Saskatchewan, we have really dark winters. We wake up in the dark, we go home in the dark. So it is hard sometimes to get that sunshine, the vitamin D and what that provides for us."
Collins said if somebody is maybe struggling with their mood, she would encourage them to reach out to CMHA.
"See what resources we could come up with in terms of helping a person move through some of those low moods, and whether or not it is something that might be a little bit more serious, whether they need to go and see maybe a counselor or a doctor regarding those moods," she noted. "At the branch here, we can certainly help with advocating for somebody that is looking for services. We can provide supports, or define what resources might be needed for a person, and we can help with connecting a person with those resources."
She said they are a safe support for the first point of contact for anybody who might be just looking for help, or don't know where to turn. "We would encourage anybody to come in and just have a conversation with us, for sure."
Collins shared with us some tips for bumping up your mood.
"Finding maybe an outdoor activity to do spending more time outdoors, and if you cannot be outdoors every day throughout the week, maybe you can find a way to put your chair there in the window so you're getting some of that sunlight throughout the day, instead of being in an office all day. Or maybe you get to you take 10 minutes and you go and stand outside. You go for a little quick walk to the corner and back just to get some vitamin D and just a little bit of exercise. Get your heart rate up just a little tiny bit."
"Maybe it's just trying something new, something that you've never done before, and just seeing how it works for you," she continued. "It could be just going for a walk on the trails. Just moving your body really can be beneficial."
"Even if you can't get outside, maybe you do chair stretches at your desk. Maybe you go and listen to music in your car and you're dancing around, or dancing while you're doing chores and listening to music while you're doing chores at home. I don't know what that looks like for everybody, but just that movement certainly can increase our feelings of pleasure and fun, and can really lighten our mood."
Collins also suggested making a colourful meal. "It can be healthier meals, but maybe just like a colourful meal, something that's a little bit more exciting on the plate."
She noted that one thing is going to work for every single person.
"I struggle with my mood during the winter, but one of the things that I do is I really put a lot of focus on the things that I can control," she shared. "It's hard work, but trying my best to try and let go of the things that aren't in my control. I can't control the weather. I can't control whichever, but I can control whether or not I go and step outside during the day and take a 10 minute break, or getting out in the sunshine. Maybe it's just stretching. Maybe it's other things, but it's proven that your productivity will be more so if you take that 10 minutes for yourself and just to kind of reset yourself, and certainly focusing on the things that we can control."
Collins reminded that it's important to find what works for you, because everybody is different.
"There's not a one-size-fits-all for positive mental health and promoting our mental health."
"Of course, anybody can call us at 306-842-7959, or stop by the office," she invited. "Come down and have a visit, come and have a coffee with us, and hang out for a little bit and find out what we've got going on."