This article discusses mental health and may be triggering for some readers. The Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Line can be reached at 1-800-875-6213. This article is not medical advice.
March. The dampest month of the year.
In April and May, the promise of spring and summer is enough to push through the slush and early sunsets, but March always gets me down. I’ve cultivated a few tips for easing seasonal depression and crankiness for the next 27 days of the month.
While experiencing the winter blues happens to us all at one point or another, if you think your symptoms could be indicative of a serious decline in mental health, please reach out to a trusted person in your life or a medical professional.
A morning walk
There’s nothing worse than waking for an early class to a wet, cold morning with the sun barely up. I’ve found an early morning walk, whether it’s five or 30 minutes long, helps. A little movement in the morning always makes me feel more energized.
Studies have shown a quick morning walk stimulates brain productivity, increases mental health, and reduces feelings of sluggishness or fatigue.
I’d be lying if I said I drag myself out of bed every morning to slip around on the streets of Kingston—but when I do, I feel like I have the time management skills and energy of a student-athlete.
Light therapy lamp
During the shorter days, many people find the early sunsets and lack of natural light depressing and exhausting. A wonderful solution to stay positive during these long, dark winter nights is a light therapy lamp, which casts a glow that imitates sunlight.
Relatively affordable, these lights have been shown to reduce the effects of seasonal affective disorder, improve general symptoms of fatigue, and can help regulate sleep patterns.
Fake the vibes
When the winter blues are hitting me especially hard, sometimes I listen to music that reminds me of summer and put a YouTube beach backdrop on my laptop.
I simply don’t care if it’s embarrassing. I’ll listen to Jimmy Buffet and the Beach Boys in the library to avoid the fact that it’s -10 degrees and snowing outside.
Put on your favourite happy, summery music and have a little dance party if you need to—at this time of the year, there’s no shame in the game.
Make it cozy
A completely different route is embracing the coldness with open arms. Romanticizing the colder weather can make the shorter days all the more bearable—I might even go as far as to say enjoyable.
Put on a Harry Potter movie or read your favourite book, curl up with a cozy blanket, and warm up with a mug of hot chocolate.
Try to enjoy the last few moments of winter—as sick of the snow as you may be at this point—and make the most of the blustery weather.
When all else fails and I find myself daydreaming about summer and cursing the month of March, I try to remind myself of how hot I was sleeping on the third floor of my Kingston student house in the middle of August.
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