Growing up in California, clear, blue, sunny skies greeted me everyday. When I came to Toronto, I suddenly went long stretches without seeing those familiar blue skies, especially during the winter months. I’ve now experienced three Toronto winters and I’ve noticed that, when those clocks “fall” back and the sun sets sooner, my mood also starts to take a hit. I find it more difficult to get things done and I tend to experience more of those moody “off” days. I know seasonal affective disorder (SAD) impacts many people, especially Canadians, due to this lack of sunlight. I don’t think I would classify what I’ve experienced as SAD, but the weather certainly contributes to my mood changes during this time of year. However, this year, I want to do what I can to make this seasonal transition easier on myself by doing some self care.
The first thing I think will definitely pick up my mood and lift my spirits is working out. Lately, I’ve found it hard to motivate myself to go to the gym and get active. But working out usually helps boost my mood, especially once those endorphins hit. I am going to set myself a goal to hit the gym at least three times a week during the winter months to help combat these mood dips. Having fitness classes so readily available on campus at the Athletic Centre and Hart House is definitely going to be a huge help with this goal! Plus, this might be a way for me to final check out those Zumba classes I’ve been meaning to go to!
Another aspect of self care that I want to get back to is journaling. I used to write in a journal regularly every night, if only for five minutes, just to go through my day and how I was feeling. A few years back, I kept up the habit and noticed that I was more aware of my negative thought patterns, which are a big influence on my mood. One specific thing I found helpful was to think of a couple of things I was grateful for in my life everyday, whether they be mundane things like waking up on time or bigger things, like my family and friends. This habit I think will definitely help me be more aware of how I am feeling and hopefully will give me more insight into the types of things that lift my mood.
The final thing I am going to do this winter is to listen to more music. I love listening to music and just relaxing, but this activity usually takes a backseat to all my schoolwork and I never find time to just chill out. But I think I am going to make a conscious effort to prioritize this, because it is something that I love and something that will also lift my darker moods. There’s nothing quite like dancing around like crazy in your living room blasting out your favorite song, is there?!
This winter, I’m not going to let my upbeat, positive energy be sapped away by the dark and cold days. Self care is so important, especially when we’re feeling vulnerable. The sun may be going away, but this year, my happy mood is here to stay!