Skip to content

Have SAD? Try these blues-beating tips

More sun, time outside, a SAD lamp, and noon-hour walks are just a few ideas for beating the winter blues. There is even a Tlellian cure.

As you read this, January is almost done. February is but a breath away, and it’s the longest shortest month of the year in my opinion. The days are getting longer, but the darkness still seems to fall far too early, and lingers far too late in the morning. It can be a terrible time for seasonal affective disorder (aptly shortened to SAD). According to Canadian Mental Health Association, two to three per cent of Canadians will experience SAD in their lifetime. A further 15 per cent will experience a milder form. Like most forms of depression, there is rarely one cause, however SAD is often linked to lack of sunlight.

If you find lately that your mood is low, sleep is too much or disrupted, your appetite has changed, and you are battling difficult thoughts while avoiding the people and activities you used to find pleasurable, you could have SAD. Talk to your doctor to rule out any other conditions first, but then try some of these tactics to ease the winter blues.

Spend more time outdoors, and leave the sunglasses at home. We absorb vitamin D through our skin, eyelids included, and it is then turned into serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Face the sun, close your eyes, and feel the sense of well-being grow.

Arrange the areas you spend the most time to maximize sunlight exposure

Keep curtains open during the day

Trim tree branches or hedges that shade your windows

Sit by a window or, if you exercise indoors, set up your exercise equipment by a window

Add lamps or install skylights. You can also use a SAD lamp, which mimics sunlight the Masset, Port, and Queen Charlotte libraries each have one, and they are available to purchase at the QC pharmacy.

Build physical activity into your lifestyle, preferably before SAD symptoms take hold. Physical activity relieves stress, builds energy and increases both your physical and mental well-being and resilience

Make a habit of taking a daily noon-hour walk, particularly if you commute in the dark hours of the day

When all else fails, try a winter vacation in sunny climates if the pocketbook and work schedule allow. Keep in mind that symptoms will recur after you return home

Try to resist the carbohydrate and sleep cravings that come with SAD

In addition to those suggestions, I’d like to present the Tlellian Cure. Yes, yes, as our reputation may suggest, sometimes that involves over-indulging and having a spontaneous dance party, but that’s not my official recommendation. Wherever you live on island, hop in the car and take a drive to Tlell. Visit Crow’s Nest for a coffee and a snack, or a nice brunch on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Visit Sitka Studio and Crystal Cabin and treat yourself or someone else to a new treasure. If you have pets or kids (or both), visit Richardson Ranch to see the animals in Ranch Feeds. Fish, birds, various little furry animals, lizards and geckos, and even spiders await to be discovered and lift your mood (well, not spiders so much in my case, though the adrenalin rush is somewhat elevating.) Then go for a walk along East Beach. Look for agates and special rocks, marvel at the ocean, and enjoy the cool, clean, calm air. This is a cure that works for the vast majority of people, trust me. Repeat as necessary.

Speaking of Richardson Ranch, Don Richardson was named to the Canadian Hereford Association honour roll last December. Don carries on a long and proud tradition for the Richardson Ranch, which was established in 1919. The ranch is known nationally as a very reputable breeder, and has won many awards over the years, as well as having the top selling bulls at auction. Congratulations to Don, Leslie and all the crew at the Richardson Ranch!

Of course, none of that happened by accident. According to the Hereford Digest, Don has made a huge effort to show his bulls off island. If you don’t show, he said, people won’t know what you have. So in that spirit, the Farmer’s Institute is holding a Marketing Boot Camp Jan. 28 and 29 at the Tlell Firehall (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) geared towards those in the food, farm, or craft business. This is a free workshop, and lunch is included! Email Ruth Wheadon at if you wish to register.

That’s it for Tlell news at the moment. I expect to see you all taking the Tlellian Cure in coming weeks. I won’t even begrudge you for being on “my” beach.

Take care, be well, and send your comments, news, and questions to