About 15 per cent of Canadians get down in the dumps this time of year, while about three per cent suffer from the more serious Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
"I'm sick of the cold," she said, shivering on the other end of the line. "It's minus 20 here! You're so lucky you live in the Okanagan."
"Oh, yeah, it's a balmy minus five here," I replied. "Socked right in and grey as granite." I glanced out my kitchen window where the ceiling hung so low over the hills, I wondered if incoming planes could land.
"I'll bet it's sunny in Cow Town."
"True," she confirmed. "Blue skies and sunshine."
Every Calgarian I know (all 10 of them) would love to live in Kelowna - in the summer. We have reason to brag about our season then. Long, hot days, warm, wonderful nights and plenty of brilliant, beautiful sunshine. It doesn't get better for a Canadian climate, but oh, how we shelve that sunscreen in the winter.
Statistics from Wikipedia put it in perspective: "Although Kelowna averages 300.5 hours of bright sunshine in July, the winter months are mostly overcast, due to the presence of low-level Pacific moisture pushing eastward toward the surrounding mountains and getting trapped in the valley; thus, Kelowna averages only 40.3 hours of bright sunshine in January."
Compare this to Calgary - touted as the sunshine capital of Canada - and one might wonder which is worse? Cold (but sunny) Calgary or temperate (but torturously grey) Kelowna.
If you're feeling as low as that cloud cover out there, take heart. You're not alone, and according to experts, getting some light and surrounding yourself with friends is exactly what you need.
Typically called the January blues, winter blahs, or I'd-rather-be-in-Cancun -itis, roughly 15 per cent of Canadians get down in the dumps, while about three per cent suffer from the more serious Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
A lack of daylight hours alters our inner clocks, leaving some people lethargic, antisocial, anxious, and uninterested in sex or other activities - in other words, depressed. For such individuals, a visit to the doctor - or just a shopping trip - may be in order.
Your doctor can diagnose depression, but according to UBC psychiatrist and leading expert in light, Dr. Ray Lam, regular use of "lightbox therapy" works as well as antidepressants. Sitting in front of the small unit which mimics daylight (available at most local drug stores), is proven therapy. Taking a vitamin D supplement can also help.
The Huffington Post has some great suggestions for combatting the darkness - not only in surroundings, but in spirit. Painting your bedroom - or any other drab area that gets you down - a bright colour can give you a lift. Ditto when you dress. Date night? Leave that little black number on the hanger and throw on something orange. Want to feel sunny? Shoulder some yellow. Apparently it promotes laughter.
While we're looking for something to wear, let's talk about why we need to get out. If it's tempting to hunker down and hide inside when the weather outside is frightful - don't. Put some tights on with that dress (for warmth and fashion) and put on your dancing shoes (or at least pack them to replace your snow boots when you arrive a la destination). Experts say being sociable and crawling from our winter caves is a sure cure.
There's nothing more depressing than getting up in the dark, but don't hit the snooze and throw the covers over your head. Apparently too much sleep can contribute to the blues. Experts say no more than 10 hours a night, though chances are, like most of your fellow frazzled friends, you're lucky if you get eight. Do try to get at least seven.
Go to bed and get up early; avoid easy fixes that are followed by icky crashes, like too much caffeine or sugar; indulge in nicer things to do, and above all else, get some exercise. Aerobic activity releases endorphins - and keeps you out of the doctor's office and into that date night dress.
Shannon Linden, a Kelowna resident, writes blogs, magazine articles, and grocery lists. Married to an ER physician, her medical update column runs Wednesdays in the Daily Courier. Visit her at shannonlinden.ca.