What exactly is Seasonal Depression?

Have you noticed a difference in yourself or someone you know during the winter months? The days are shorter, weather is colder, and it is dark outside far more than it is light. All these changes can impact people differently. Some may refer to this as seasonal depression, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This can result in a loss of energy, changes in appetite, feelings of sadness, depressed mood, and changes in sleep.  

Some of these changes can feel scary, but they are actually normal. Your body responds to the time change, colder temperatures, and less sunlight making seasonal depression common. Your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, can be thrown off by the longer nights, leaving you feeling groggy and tired. Changes in circadian rhythm can also impact melatonin, which is usually secreted at night. The longer nights during the winter can impact this secretion, leaving you feeling tired and fatigued during the day.  While all these changes can be uncomfortable and unsettling, keep in mind that as the days get longer and the temperatures increase this will fade away.  

Wondering what you can do to help in the meantime? Great question! There are plenty of things you can implement to help improve your mood during these long winter months.

Get outside  

This is simple right? Can this really make a difference? 

Absolutely. It’s simple and can have a HUGE impact. Your body needs vitamin D (sunlight) and exercise. So why not do both at the same time??  

Taking a quick 10 minute walk around the neighborhood can greatly impact your mood and help your body get the vitamin D it needs. It’s best to do this a couple times a week, and even better if you can find time to do it daily. 


Leaning on those around you (figuratively, thanks to COVID) can help during the winter months. This will help to reduce feelings of isolation and sadness.  

There aren’t many gatherings due to current restrictions, but Facetime and Zoom are great alternatives. If there are small, socially distanced gift exchanges or dinners, make an effort to go. You might not want to because you’re tired or don’t feel like socializing, but these are some of the most important times to make sure that you go.  

This could also look like grabbing coffee with a friend or coworker, volunteering at a local non-profit, or joining a support group. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or reach out to a therapist to help you get through this season.  


With all the changes going on in our bodies during the winter months, it’s important to fuel our bodies with nutrient dense foods. This can be especially hard during the holidays because there are so many good sweets and treats around. Enjoy your holiday meals and make sure to incorporate some healthier options during the week.  

Some foods that might have the best impact on your brain and body health are cruciferous veggies, foods high in Omega-3s, nuts and beans. Some examples of good veggies are arugula, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. You can eat salmon, chia seeds, and flax seed for those great Omega-3 fats. And finally, walnuts, cashews, and beans. Incorporating these into your diet will help your body get all the needed vitamins and minerals. 

Get Cozy 

Find a funny movie, a comfortable sofa, and a warm blanket. Maybe even brew some coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to sip on. Embracing the season won’t fix it, but it might help you enjoy some parts of it. Maybe even splurge on a warm new hoodie to wear on your outside walks! 

Experiencing Grief and Loss During the Holidays

For some, the holidays are the most exciting time of the year. It seems this year especially, people started preparing and celebrating much earlier than usual. Stores and homes are decorated, people are shopping for the perfect gifts, and festive music seems to always be playing. While this is great for those who love the holidays, it can be tricky for those missing a loved one. Since the holidays are usually a time spent with family and those we love most, it can bring up some painful and hard feelings for those missing loved ones who have passed.  

Are you dreading this holiday season? Maybe you’re wondering how you’re going to get through yet another painful time?  

Here are some things that might help as you move through this difficult time:  

Acknowledge the pain and validate your emotions 

Unfortunately, there is no perfect timeframe or way to grieve. During this time, it may be helpful to acknowledge the pain you feel. Many times, we try staying busy or continuing to stuff our feelings down hoping to avoid those painful emotions. These emotions can sometimes look like sadness, anxiety, frustration, guilt, anger, and lack of motivation. These emotions might also come with thoughts like “I don’t want to do this,” or “How will I survive?” These are all normal emotions and thoughts to have throughout the grieving process. Actively addressing these painful emotions and uncomfortable thoughts is important, and especially important during the holidays. Some ways to do that may be writing in a journal, talking to a loved one, getting outside, or regularly moving your body. Again, there is no perfect way to grieve, but one of the most important things is that you acknowledge your pain and validate your emotions. 

Don’t be afraid to say “No”

The author Aundi Kolber once said, “Boundary work is often grief work.” This is so true and something to keep in mind during the holidays. Give yourself the freedom to say no. Going to certain small dinners or participating in gift swaps might be too painful, and it’s okay if you don’t want to participate. It can be easy to feel pressured to please other people, however setting healthy boundaries for yourself will limit stress and potential triggers. With that being said, isolation is a dangerous place to be. Set healthy boundaries to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed but continue to engage with those close individuals around you, even when you might not want to. 

Feel isolated? Reach out to a friend or family member and safely grab a coffee or go on a socially distanced walk. This may be difficult at times, but staying engaged and connected to others during your grief journey is important.  

Remember the good memories 

Spend some time reflecting on the exciting and joyful times you spent with your loved one. You might do this by lighting a candle for them or decorating something in their honor and memory. Did they have a favorite food you can cook or holiday song you can sing along to? Find a tangible reminder of them, tell stories about your loved one, and maybe even browse through old photos.  You might decide to keep some of your old traditions the same because you know it would make them happy and help you remember the special times you had with them. 

Create new memories and traditions  

Maybe this year you add one or two things to your list of usual traditions. Always sent a Holiday Card? Maybe you skip that this year and drive around to look at neighborhood lights instead! Or schedule a safe, socially distanced brunch instead of having the usual dinner. This is a time to be creative and step outside the box. A fresh activity this season might bring some joy you haven’t experienced in a while. 

Honor your loved one 

Spreading joy in their name this season is a great way to honor your loved one.  You can buy something they would love and donate it to a non-profit or donate money in their name. You could even light a candle or make their favorite dish or dessert. There are many ways to honor your loved one during the season, don’t be afraid to get creative. 

Ask for help 

Even though this season can feel lonely, remember that you are not alone. Reach out to someone close to you when you need some support and let them know how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to make an appointment with a counsellor or join a support group to help you during this difficult and challenging time. 

Goal Setting for the New Year!

Do you have a difficult time setting goals? Sometimes it can seem daunting to set goals, even scary at times. Here are a few ideas that might help you as this year ends and another begins. A good acronym to use when brainstorming goals is SMART. We will walk through what each letter represents and practical ways you can use it to set your goals for the New Year!

S: Specific

Goals need to be specific and narrow. It’s important for you to know exactly what you’re striving for. This may help you visualize yourself achieving the goal and will help you know exactly when to check it off as completed.

M: Measurable

How can you prove you’re moving in the right direction or making progress towards completing your goal? It is important to be able to measure your progress and ultimate success. This will also allow you to set milestones along the way. Sometimes breaking a big goal down into smaller, measurable steps can be very helpful.

A: Achievable

Do you have a habit of setting goals and never achieving them? Sometimes we have the best of intentions when setting goals, but never make them realistic and achievable. Remember, you can start small and create another goal once you complete the first one.

R: Relevant

Does this goal align with your core values, beliefs, and purpose? This goal should line up with your long-term goals and be relevant to the things happening in your life. When thinking about if this is relevant ask yourself how it applies to your long-term goals and purpose.

T: Time-Based

Is there an end-date to your goal? Setting a timeframe or time limit will help keep you motivated along the way. Sometimes our time limit can be too short or too long, and both of these can negatively impact the ability to complete a goal. Take this into consideration when setting your goal, if you don’t complete your goal, think about how time affected your ability to complete your goal. This will help you be better prepared next time.

Now that you’re an expert goal setter, it’s time to get started! Look at the different areas of your life like career, health and fitness, hobby, spiritual, and financial. You don’t have to set goals in each of these areas so just pick a couple that are a priority for you and start making some SMART goals!

Good luck!

Eight tips to incorporate this holiday season!

We understand what a whirlwind this time of the year can feel like and wanted to give you some quick, easy tips to incorporate this season.

Keep It Simple: Do you have a hard time picking out presents? Maybe you feel like you have to find the perfect one? So many times we feel the need to go overboard for presents, but sometimes simple gifts are the best gifts. This principle is the same if you’re safely having a couple people over for a small get together. Make it simple for you and your guests by having everyone bring a dish.

Plan Ahead: Weekdays and weekends during this time of the year seem to fill up very quickly. To help reduce some stress, at the beginning of each week see whats on the calendar for the week ahead. You may be able to grab something ahead of time or combine a few errands to save time!

Ask For Help: Asking for help can feel uncomfortable, but many times it’s needed. This could look like asking someone to help you plan a small, safe get together or help you cook a dish. Sometimes asking for help can look like hiring a babysitter for the night or having a close friend or family member watch the kids. Teamwork makes the dream work! Don’t be afraid to lean on those around you (and maintain social distancing) this holiday season!

Find Time for Yourself: Holidays tend to be focused on others, but we can’t forget our own personal needs. Schedule some time for yourself this season. Maybe take yourself to splurge on a nice coffee or ask a friend to join you on a socially distanced walk.

Say No: It’s very easy to overbook during this time of the year. There are always so many fun things going on, or so many things your family members want to do. Make sure to sit down with your calendar and set limits to prevent being stretched too thin. Saying “no” is a good thing and can prevent you from being burnt out and overwhelmed. It is also important to sit down with your family and set limits on what your COVID safety limits are. This might help some confusion later and keep everyone on the same page.

Do Something Fun: Is there a hobby you haven’t done in a while? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Find some time in your schedule to do something fun while following safety guidelines. This might even mean checking something off your bucket list, whether it’s by yourself or with a few friends or family.

Create a Budget and Stick to It: It’s very easy to get swept up in the holiday spirit and lose track of how much things are adding up to cost! To prevent this from happening, sit down ahead of time and budget your spending for the season. This isn’t the most fun activity, but you’ll thank yourself later!

Stay Happy and Healthy: Holidays during COVID times are unprecedented for sure! Remember to social distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands while enjoying your time with those around you.