Beating the “Winter Blues”

Photo: Sylvain Serré
2021 | 12 | 10

Winter, that darkest time of the year. Literally! Reduced sunlight during the colder, darker and shorter days can lead many to experience symptoms of seasonal depression. On top of that, the challenges caused by COVID-19 also brings its share of stress and insecurity, resulting in a bitter mix.

In this article, we address questions, offer advice and thoughts on this important issue and how to bounce back and face this difficult situation.


The “Winter Blues”: Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder and raising awareness


According to Statistics Canada, up to 10% of Canadians aged 12 and older have a mood disorder, including seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to some scientific claims, this number can rise to 50%.

Symptoms of SAD can range from mild to severe, from feeling more irritable than usual to moods that can interfere with relationships and work. By the same token, the COVID-19 pandemic can also affect people physically and psychologically and present itself in many ways: sleep problems, decreased appetite, fatigue, feelings of powerlessness, sadness, anger, insularity, difficulty concentrating, etc.


In this context, the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) is calling for resilience: “Resilience, which is innate for some, can be acquired and developed”. To get there, the FNQLHSSC targets many things that you can do on personal level and in the workplace. Here are a few:

  • Establish a routine that is adapted to the new reality, including work schedules.
  • Rest and take time to recover, regain your strength and recharge your batteries.
  • Practice traditional activities and ceremonies that can bring comfort.
  • Talk to an elder to learn from them.
  • Listen to and offer support to colleagues when necessary.
  • Comply with preventive measures to reduce anxiety and ensure everyone’s safety.


The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) also has advice for coping with stress and uncertainty. Its simplicity seems to hit the mark:

  • Stay connected, even if you are physically isolated.
  • Focus on what you can control.
  • Take care of yourself and the community.
  • Stay informed… but not too much!


In any case, a good approach to take is to talk and read about it (you are headed in the right direction if you have made it this far). We invite you to consult the links in the text above to learn more. Also, you should not hesitate to use the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) if the need arises. It is completely confidential and free for you and your immediate family.

Stay safe and take care.


Need to chat?

  • EFAP: 1 (800) 663-1142 or TTY 1(888) 384-1152 /
  • Kamatsiaqtut Help Line: 1-800-265-3333 (English/Inuktitut)
  • First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310 (English/French)
  • Revivre help line (anxiety, depression, etc.): 1-866-738-4873
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 / (English/French)
  • Centre de prévention du suicide Help Line: 1-866-277-3553