If you and I are anything alike, you probably loathe the winter season with your entire body and soul. And if we truly are alike, you wouldn’t consider this to be a dramatic statement by any means.
Despite being born and raised in Montreal and having gone through the season change for the past 23 years, I can assure you that my attitude towards winter has not changed or lessened by any means. There truly is no getting used to the dramatic drops in temperature and having to literally scrape ice and snow off your car without turning into an icicle, yourself.
But besides the superficial difficulties of these colder months, the “winter blues” deserve a lot more credit when it comes to the deeper ways they can affect a person’s health, be it physically or mentally.
Winter Blues or SAD?
The winter blues, on a more serious note, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), encompasses a lot more than surface level hatred towards the cold. SAD effectively impairs one’s daily life through their emotional, mental and physical states. Symptoms include a complete lack of motivation and enjoyment in completing daily tasks, over/under eating, insomnia, the feeling of utter hopelessness, and so much more.
Cold weather aside, the lack of sunlight coupled with the fact that it gets dark outside by 4pm makes it extremely difficult to maintain a positive outlook for the general public, much less those who suffer from SAD. It is safe to assume that these particular people experience this difficulty tenfold.
And if all that wasn’t enough, existing within the province of Quebec at this particular moment in time is far from effortless.
Recently, the Quebec government has reinstated the closure and restriction of non-essential public spaces, and the halt of non-essential public activities. Though there has been news of these restrictions coming to an end in the following weeks and months, living in Montreal right now isn’t exactly what I’d call “fun.”
If we’re comparing the current situation with the previously implemented 10pm curfew we were dealing with several weeks ago that has since been dismissed, I guess you could say we’re livin’ the good life.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels as though my already-overwhelmingly-debilitating winter blues have been compounded by the lack of events and general excitement due to these public closures and restrictions. This decline in events (AKA reasons to leave my house that are unrelated to grocery shopping) has also seemed to coincide with a sharp increase in homebodies and “nah, I think I’m gonna stay in tonight”s among my close friends, further adding to the sadness and loneliness caused by good old winter blues.
Individual experience aside, a lot of businesses have already suffered enough due to the various shut-downs and limiting of their hours, especially considering the fact that most businesses had just begun to recover from the previously implemented closures when they were hit with these new restrictions.
To say that life is hard right now would, quite frankly, be the understatement of the decade.
And though maintaining a sense of cheerfulness may seem impossible, I’m here to offer some ways that’ll hopefully make the trek through these next few months slightly less harrowing.
1. Winding Down
One of the most important things to remember is that self-care isn’t selfish. If there’s one way to keep yourself relatively happy throughout these trying times, it’s by finding the things you love to do most.
Whether this means soaking in a warm bath and finally using that bath bomb you got for Christmas or curling up with a good book by the fire, take this time to wind down and refresh your energy.
And if you’re not sure which hobby suits you best, think of this season as March 2020, 2.0. Buy some puzzles, bake, binge TV shows… there’s so many options out there for you to try.
2. Support Local
Now, more than ever, is the time to support your local shops and businesses. There’s only so much that we, as individuals, can do for the economy on a wider scale. So, let’s do our part in supporting the industries that were majorly affected by the pandemic and lockdowns. I can assure you the multi-million-dollar corporations will be just fine without you. Wanna indulge in an arts and crafts evening with friends? Instead of hitting up Dollarama, how about you try out that specialty arts supply store a couple blocks away. It may be slightly more expensive, but I can assure you the quality of supplies will be much higher PLUS you’ll actually be making a difference by directly supporting the store owners.
So next time you’re looking for the perfect gift or treat for yourself, don’t think BIG… think local.
3. Social Check-Ups
Though you may not be able to physically see your relatives or friends due to restrictions and/or quarantines, we’re lucky enough to live in a time where technology is our greatest link to one another.
Consider this the perfect time to check up on your friends via video chat. Better yet, hop onto Teleparty and watch a long-distance movie together.
After all, just because we’re stuck at home, doesn’t mean we can’t talk.
4. Enjoy the Outdoors
Being stuck inside day and night, depending on your work/school schedule, is quite the opposite of enjoyable.
So, take the end of your day and/or weekend to spend some time in the outdoors (preferably when it isn’t -40 °C with wind chill).
Breathing in some fresh air and stretching your muscles can do wonders. Take the time to clear your mind, focus on your breathing and take in the scenery around you.
5. Be Nice
It’s an awful time for all of us which makes it easy to project your bad attitude, thoughts and emotions onto an innocent bystander.
Though it may be a task, try to keep these negative lashing outs at bay.
The least we can do is walk into places with a hint of smile and treat people with kindness.
Though it seems a simple enough idea, you’d be surprised how much power these simple acts can hold. A simple smile or gentle words to a person, stranger or not, can immediately light up their day. In turn, it may even boost your mood as well.
Be nice. We’re all in this together, after all.
HobbyLark. “150+ Hobby Ideas Broken Down by Interest and Personality.” October 18, 2019, https://hobbylark.com/misc/How-to-Choose-a-Hobby
Caruso-Moro, Luca. “Quebec Reintroduces 10 p.m. Curfew as Infection Rates Skyrocket.” CTV News, December 30, 2021, https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/quebec-reintroduces-10-p-m-curfew-as-infection-rates-skyrocket-1.5723269
Brain & Behaviour Research Foundation. “The Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder?” December 31, 2019, https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/winter-blues-or-seasonal-affective-disorder#:~:text=The%20winter%20blues%20are%20very,your%20ability%20to%20enjoy%20life.
Tourism Montréal. “To Keep Informed About the Current Situation.” February 11, 2022, https://www.mtl.org/en/covid-19