Do you suffer from the winter blues? Do the shorter days and cold weather bring you down? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with their mental health during the winter months.
“I believe people struggle more so in the winter due to the decrease in sunlight and less time outdoors,” mental health worker Julie Clavette said. Clavette has worked for Aroostook Mental Health Center for five years, providing support to people in Madawaska. “I find a lot of people, who struggle normally, struggle worse when getting out and socializing is hindered by the weather.”
There are many signs and symptoms of having the winter blues. The most common signs are depressed mood and lack of energy. But Clavette warns that there are other things to look out for as well. “Some signs and symptoms might be feeling restless, increased agitation, increase in weight, decrease in self-esteem and so on.”
As we are entering our third year of the pandemic, the winter blues have become even more common. Brittney Beaulieu, Master of Social Work student intern, has noted how the pandemic is a contributing factor. Beaulieu has been involved in the mental health field for seven years. She has seen first-hand the impact that the pandemic has had on mental health. “With the pandemic cases constantly rising, isolation becomes more prevalent in the winter months,” Beaulieu said. “People are not able to meet outside due to the weather. Having ‘cabin fever’ can cause depression and feelings of loneliness.”
Both Clavette and Beaulieu agree that staying active is key for beating the winter blues. “I advise people to make the effort to find a fun way to exercise,” Clavette said. “It can be as simple as dusting off your treadmill and taking a walk while you listen to music. Allow yourself a set time where you commit to being productive in the home. Consider picking up a winter hobby. Snowshoeing, ice skating or even puzzle making.”