WELLINGTON COUNTY – While they dismiss the concept of “Blue Monday,” Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) officials say the “winter blues” and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are very real, albeit very different, phenomena.
“For 15 years, the third Monday in January has been dubbed ‘Blue Monday,’ billed as ‘the most depressing day of the year.’ This simply isn’t true,” states a Jan. 14 press release from CMHA Waterloo Wellington.
The organization says research suggests 15 per cent Ontarians have experienced the “winter blues,” which can include changes in appetite and lethargy as the days grow shorter.
“The winter blues differs from [SAD], which affects about two per cent of the population and is a serious form of depression,” states the CMHA WW release.
“Symptoms include weight gain, decreased energy and fatigue.”
THE CMHA notes the challenges people are facing “are real,” including cold weather, worries about the end of the holidays or that they didn’t turn out as planned and, most importantly, concerns and anxiety about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The recent Omicron variant has thrown us all for a loop for many reasons, we were feeling optimistic with the roll out of vaccines and getting back to some sense of normalcy, the rules have changed of how we protect ourselves, and recent lockdowns were unexpected and have been especially hard on families and the elderly,” states the CMHA WW release.
“And now the pivoting back to in-person school, while important for the mental health of children, has many parents and students anxious.”
CMHA WW offers the following tips:
- try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Instead, be aware of your anxiety and accept that you’re feeling anxious in this situation. Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful;
- take the recommended precautions as outlined by Health Canada and other credible health agencies. Remain focused on the factors within your control, such as washing hands, wearing a proper mask, avoiding non-essential travel, etc.’
- focus on the present and how to make each moment the best it can be given the circumstances we are all facing;
- check in with yourself daily to see how you are feeling emotionally, this helps with misplacing your feelings of frustration and anger;
- reaching out and talking to a professional can help you get those feelings of frustration out and express your feelings in a productive way;
- try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, get outside – especially when it is sunny – and exercise;
- seek information from reliable news sources only. Limit checking in on the latest news to short, defined periods, and refrain from setting related push notifications on your device. Appropriate information consumption may be calming and can lessen the sense of danger.
CMHA WW offers a number of programs and services as well as crisis support through Here 24/7, 1-844-437-3247.