Let’s say you live in a three-storey walk-up in the middle of our great neighbourhood. In the morning, when you wake up, it’s dark outside. After work, when you go home, it’s dark outside. In the middle of all of that, maybe work is long and tiring. When you get home and look out the window, all you can see is mountains and mountains of snow, cars getting jumpstarted, and skinny, frozen trees shaking in the wind. The same wind that is making it feel like it’s -50 degrees outside.
All of these factors combined might result in your dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you are, you might be sleeping too much, feel lethargic, and feel depressed. And even if you don’t necessarily have SAD, this time of year can suck you into bad moods anyway. In fact, Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year (if you believe it), came early this year. It’s today, while I’m writing this. That means it was yesterday for you. It’s usually closer to late January, but I guess ‘they’ decided people would be extra depressed earlier this year.
In our fairly small but very dense neighbourhood, claustrophobia and the doldrums can set in when it feels too cold to go anywhere else, but sometimes that could be the best idea – to move around the city a bit. But if you can’t do that, here are some ways you could maybe work it out by walking a couple blocks.
Make being at home fun
You will inevitably feel trapped in your house or apartment when the idea of going outside is one that is equated with jumping off the roof of said house or apartment. My grandpa always says, “only boring people get bored.” So if you have to stay in, make it a good time. You can build a pillow fort or a blanket fort, depending on your fort preference. Do some crafts, like making friendship bracelets for your best buds (not totally as lame as it sounds. Who doesn’t love homemade gifts?). Go to Safeway or Vita Health and pick up some food, then prepare a delicious meal with your significant other/good friends. Draw an ‘escape from winter’ map. Write a song, whether you can write songs or not (you can). We’re bombarded with the idea that there is so much art and music in Winnipeg because people are stuck inside with nothing else to do during the winter. It’s absolutely true. Make something beautiful. Make some art. It takes time and you’ll feel accomplished after.
Buy a happy record at Music Trader or go see some live tunes at The Cavern
While you’re sitting around lamenting the death of warm weather and sunlight, it might be best not to be listening to something like the There Will Be Blood soundtrack or Meat is Murder. You’re not doing yourself any favours. Go pick up something like They Told Me by The Lytics or the best album ever to come out of Steinbach – Love and War by The Pets. Or pretty much any funk record. They are life affirming and you can dance to them. Also, just down the street is The Cavern, which has live music all the time. You know the best part about live music? You get to participate in a common experience, a feeling of togetherness with spectators and performers. You are all in it together. Sometimes the best way to beat the blues is to just not feel so alone. Also, again, you can usually dance to whatever’s going on. If you want guaranteed dancing, there’s always the Greenroom on the weekends, too.
Grab a friend and go out for coffee/drinks/food
Why aren’t you out seeing your friends? They live in the same city, maybe the same block, even, and they’re freezing and going through all this, too. This one is a no-brainer. I’m sure there is a real statistic for this somewhere, but I think The Village might have the most coffee shops within a 15-second walk from each other in the city. So you can hang out with your pal over espressos or lattes, or frappuccinos or whatever it is people drink at coffee shops. There are also too many bars here to count, so grab all of your friends and have some beers and pizza somewhere. If you all get drunk enough, there will be no shortage of people telling other people they love each other.
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Go on an old-fashioned bender
Okay, fine, you can do this. The Zoo Vendor can help you with it. Just remember all the other benders you’ve been on. Did you feel better after? This could be fun, or it could just be a way to send you back to square one, so be careful.
Not something of actual value. Grab a baseball bat, find an old computer monitor, take it down to the riverbanks, and obliterate it. Like that scene in Office Space.
If you think SAD is a real thing you’re dealing with, Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba will rent you the lights they use to help treat it. It is extremely cheap.
See a therapist
Because if you have serious mental issues, you should not be taking any notes from someone like me.
And finally, just remember there are people out there who love you, and we’re all in it together, so don’t give up – summer’s coming.
Matt Williams is a Winnipeg-based writer and musician infatuated by lady country singers. Follow him on Twitter @MattGeeWilliams.
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