Most people I know who reside in Quebec and Canada suffer from winter depression. I once did a survey amongst my close friends and out of 18 friends, 15 admitted that they suffered from seasonal depression. Most of them replied that they would prefer to live anywhere else but in a cold country during winter and some went as far as saying they loved climate change because winters were warmer now!
I have spent some time and energy trying to assist my friends who suffer from seasonal depression by giving them my secrets to staying joyful during the colder seasons. Some of them followed my advice and became more joyful while others preferred to continue on the same path as before, resenting winter and all its dimensions. I would like to share with you my secrets to living a joyful existence during the colder months.
Walk Outside Every Day
A recent scientific research conducted in Australia in January 2015 demonstrated that regular walking every week and moderate exercise reduced depression in middle-aged women. When women walked about 200 minutes per week, the study concluded, they had more energy, socialized more, and felt better emotionally. Their depression symptoms were much less frequent. Other studies tell us that half an hour of exercise every day is equivalent to taking one antidepressant.
No matter the weather, I walk outside. Sometimes it is brutally cold and windy but I bundle up like a big furry creature and open my door and take a deep breath. I smile and walk outside, welcoming the various states of Mother Nature. As I trudge through the thick snow outside, I focus on my breathing and I make sure I can feel my heart pumping fast. If my heart is not pumping fast enough, I break into a small jog just to wake it up. When I come back home, I am filled with lightness and happiness and roll up my sleeves for the piles of work awaiting for me.
It takes time and effort to put on warm winter clothes, lace up your boots, and search for your hat and mittens yet walking outside has so many health benefits that you should give it a try every day for several weeks and observe the changes happening in your mind, spirit, and body. I guarantee you that joy will slowly return and you will find wintertime much less painful and long. You might even begin to appreciate the whiteness and stillness outside!
Bibliotherapy (Read More Books)
Two years ago the United Kingdom launched a new approach to treating depression and minor mental illness. Doctors began to prescribe self-help books instead of medication. This form of therapy has been around since 1966, according to Rose Eveleth, who explains what Bibliotherapy is;
The use of books selected on the basis of content in a planned reading program designed to facilitate the recovery of patients suffering from mental illness or emotional disturbance.
Although scientists are unsure of the results yet, one thing is evident: reading helps people unplug from their daily problems and enter happier mental states.
In the film Silver Lining Playbook, the character Patrick immediately goes to his local library after he is released from the psychiatric hospital in order to read a long list of books. He heard that reading was good against depression. In a hilarious scene, he gets enraged at a negative ending by Hemingway, throws the book out the window, and wakes his parents up while he rants about the pessismistic denouement. Patrick doesn't want more negativity: he wants to find the silver lining in everything around him. He's had enough clouds in his recent past.
If you find yourself seasonally depressed then visit your local bookstore or library and dive into positive or inspirational fiction. The benefits will surely include feeling less isolated, feeling more positive, and giving you new ideas on how to improve your daily life. One winter I found myself reading all of Don Miguel Ruiz's books one after the other and doing book reviews to help me understand the Toltec teachings better. I found that that winter flew by and before I knew it, I was outdoors again tanning, running, and swimming, my favorite summer activities.
Discover a New Hobby
The colder seasons allow us to become more creative. It's the perfect opportunity to find a new fun hobby and develop another skill such as pottery, painting, yoga, Qi Gong, or dancing. Instead of staying home alone watching television, I suggest you sign up for a new activity that will get your creative juices flowing and will allow you to meet new people who share the same interests as you.
In Silver Lining Playbook, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) brings Patrick (Bradley Cooper) to a place of healing through dancing. She motivates him to help her do a dance routine for a competition and together they work on their routine, discovering more about each other. Tiffany knows how obsessed Patrick is with his ex-wife Nicki and she realizes that he needs a new hobby to help him make peace with his past. Their hobby becomes a great form of therapy that doesn't involve medication, something they both dislike immensely.
One winter in 2007 I decided to do Kung Fu full-time, four times per week, alongside my University Masters degree. I figured that it was the best moment to become fit, mingle with other warrior-minded folk, and push my limits. It was one of the happiest winters of my life; I was often so tired physically that I would fall asleep instantly rather than stay awake worrying about my studies or upcoming exams or financial problems.
I found myself much more joyful and alert mentally. Not only that, I also met a lot of cool new friends and developed a strong friendship with my teacher, Daniel, who turned out to be a good life coach.
If you have a depressive tendency during the colder seasons, I strongly urge you to walk outside daily, read inspirational books, and find a new fun hobby. Who knows what magic will manifest when you begin to make efforts to stay joyful all year long!
©2015 by Nora Caron.
Book by this Author
Journey to the Heart: New Dimensions Trilogy, Book 1
by Nora Caron.
Watch the book trailer: Journey to the Heart - Book Trailer
Other books in the trilogy: