It’s almost January 16th, and whether or not you know why that’s significant, I’m going to tell you. Proclaimed as “the most depressing day of the year,” the 16th of January is a day to discuss SAD (seasonal affective disorder) but also mental health awareness in general. While we have made massive strides in normalizing and destigmatizing discussions around mental health, we still have a long way to go. In light of the time of year, I’m going to tell you some ways I battle through rough patches with my mental health.  

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, psychologist, mental health professional, or frankly anybody who should be giving medical advice so this post will be null and void of anything along those lines. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or struggling with your mental health please reach out to a mental health professional  

1. Get Outside  

 A telltale sign your mental health might be off is when you stop pursuing your hobbies and interests. I get it, it’s freezing outside and the sun is only out for about 10 seconds, but it’s important to have fresh air and physical activity even in the winter. Walking is the cheapest way of doing it, but if you’re a thrill seeker like me, you should try snowboarding or skiing. It’s a lot of fun and it combines fresh air and exercise all in one. Often you can find used gear on eBay or Facebook marketplace. Or maybe skating is more your cup of tea, throw on some boots and work those quads baby.   

2. Hobbies  

 Not one for going outside, I get that. Well, there’s no reason you can’t pick up a new indoor hobby. Learning a skill is good for improving your mental health. It boosts your self-confidence, gives you a sense of purpose, and can create a sense of community. Cooking, musical instruments, photography, painting, etc. The possibilities are endless. However, if you’re looking for a recommendation, I would strongly recommend picking up a book. It doesn’t have to be self-help (I find self-help a little boring personally), it can be anything you enjoy. I find reading calms my brain and provides a healthy distraction from overwhelming emotions.    

3. Journaling 

 I truly think journaling can be a massive mental health game-changer. I started keeping a journal a few years ago and it drastically helped me manage my feelings & emotions and also keep track of my progress with my mental health. If you don’t have access to a therapist or a psychologist, keeping a journal is a (practically free) way to get out your feelings. It does require commitment but once you start to see progress you’ll be hooked.   

4. Make Plans 

 Having something to look forward to keeps me in good spirits; it might work for you too! The days don’t become as monotonous and dreary if you have a concert, event, trip, or lunch date planned with your friends. I’m not saying you need to plan an expensive luxury vacation. It could be something simple like bowling with your friends or maybe a solo self-care day. My favourite thing to do is see a movie with a friend or on my own (sometimes alone is better because I can’t stand when people ask me questions about the movie…like how would I know). And also, what is better than movie theatre popcorn?  

5. The most effective method of all is: Pets. 

 Cat, dog, lizard, horse, rat, turtle, tarantula, bird, fish, frankly it doesn’t matter. But if you’re a cat person like me, watching a cat kneading (aka making biscuits) temporarily alleviates any feelings of depression or anxiety. Not able to get a pet? That’s ok. Visit your local animal shelter, become a dog walker, or try out animal therapy!   

6. Bonus Tip

I asked my coworkers how they manage their mental health: 

  • Baking/Cooking 
  • Go to a rage room 
  • Listen to music  
  • Yoga 
  • “FOOOOD” – Amanda P. 
  • Scrapbooking 
  • Rearranging furniture  
  • Solo dance party 
  • Shopping  
  • Get a tattoo 
  • Facetime with old friends 
  • Hang out with your grandma  
  • Painting 
  • Crocheting  

 Click here for some additional Canadian Mental Health Services.

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