winter blues toronto

The top 10 ways to beat the winter blues in Toronto

Is the Toronto winter bringing you down? You're not alone: with the short, slush-coated, generally gross days of winter passing at a slow crawl, it's easy to succumb to the winter blahs - which, at worst, can manifest as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Though the urge to hide under the covers and not come out until April might be strong, taking a few steps to boost your mood might keep you rolling until the sunshine comes back.

Here are my picks for the top 10 ways to beat the winter blues in Toronto.

Buy a therapy lamp
For those with SAD, doctors recommend picking up a therapy lamp, which kicks out a high level of light (5,000 to 10,000 lux), and sitting in front of it for roughly half an hour each morning. They're available at plenty of chain stores, but shoppers have also spied them at Starkman's or The Big Carrot.

Break a sweat
It's the last thing you want to do when it's -20 C outside, but the endorphin boost of exercise is a surefire way to make you feel less sluggish. Whether you're indoors or outdoors, Toronto has tons of way to stay fit in the winter. You can even check out a new gym - and if you're on a budget, newcomer Planet Fitness is only $10 a month.

Grab some comfort food
Seasonal blahs are known to lead directly to carb cravings, and we're all probably covered in a little extra - ahem - winter insulation right now. But one day of indulgence won't kill you - and if you head to Heatfest, set to be held in the Distillery on February 16, you'll be able to enjoy some hearty soups, stews and curries while being out and about in the February air. (Afterward, please refer back to tip #2.)

Snack on some dark chocolate
The dark stuff is known to release mood-boosting serotonin - and, luckily for you, Toronto has tons of amazing homegrown chocolatiers. (Have you seen the magic that goes on behind the scenes at SOMA?) Bargain hunters, just remember: Valentine's season will be over this coming Sunday. You know what to do.

Try aromatherapy
Bath, body and wellness chain Saje Natural Wellness landed in Toronto in this past fall, bringing a whole slate of aromatherapy products for the body and home. For a boost, try filling one of their adorable home diffusers with some invigorating, cheerful scents. If nothing else, your place will smell awesome.

Explore art as therapy
The AGO's Art As Therapy exhibit, on until April 26, explores how art can help viewers understand themselves and the world around them. The show's works are organized into stations, each focusing on themes like love, money or politics. (Check out the Basquiat show while you're down there.)

Go somewhere hot
Are you going to throw something if you see one more Instagram photo of your friends' sunny beachside getaways? Toronto has a slew of saunas and steam rooms that will let you sweat all that sadness right out of your pores (and you don't even need to fly anywhere to get there).

Eat some seafood
Low vitamin B12 levels in the body have been linked to depression. It's not known why, but since oysters, clams, and crab are all excellent food sources of B12, you may as well treat yourself to a Shucker's Best oyster sampler at the just-overhauled Pearl Diver.

Take in a comedy show
You know what they say about laughter and medicine. Toronto has tons of clubs where you can check out the city's top up-and-coming comedy talent - might we suggest the brand-new home of the Bad Dog Comedy Theatre?

Get out of the house, already
Experts urge SAD sufferers not to ignore social interaction during the winter doldrums - even if the weather is lousy, you can at least feel like your social life is going well. Recruit some friends to check out a new bar or go to a show - and if you're short on friends, just make some new ones.

Did I miss any? Leave your suggestions for how to beat the winter blues in Toronto in the comments.

Photo by Jason Cook in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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