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News release
Dec. 27, 2021

Mental health: top tips Ontario doctors are recommending this holiday season

TORONTO, Dec. 27, 2021— Ontario’s doctors encourage everyone to make their mental health a priority through the holiday season and winter months. This is perhaps even more important as 2021 winds to an end and we are still gripped by a pandemic.

This is the time of year when many people experience a shift in mood and lack energy. The onset of dark, snowy weather can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that occurs during the fall and winter.

The Ontario Medical Association says that following small lifestyle adjustments can help people suffering from SAD and anyone feeling the impact of this winter holiday season cope with the symptoms:

  • Understand holidays are not always full of joy: Holidays can be both stressful and fulfilling. Try to accept the different emotions instead of setting the unrealistic expectation everything should be positive and good
  • Breathe: When feeling overwhelmed, take five minutes to breathe and observe what is around you. A five-minute pause can help you gain clarity on what is truly important
  • Gratitude: Take a moment each day to think of three things or people you are grateful for and allow yourself to feel that experience.
  • Set Boundaries: Sometimes dealing with family situations can be stressful. Set boundaries, including how much time you spend together and what behavior you will tolerate. If a relative starts discussing something uncomfortable, such as your weight, a simple "my body is not up for discussion," could be a response that sets a boundary. Boundaries are important to maintain everyday
  • Kindness: Do an act of kindness every day, whether for a relative, a pet, a neighbour or a stranger. Acts of kindness are known to increase your own kindness.
  • Disconnect: Take time to disconnect from screens, phones, news, etc. for about one hour each day to help recharge your mind and engage in other activities, like going for a walk or other physical activity
  • Stay social: Although your symptoms may make this difficult, keep in regular contact with family and friends, both in-person and virtually. These networks can provide opportunities to socialize and refresh your mood. Your loved ones may also be experiencing the effects of the season. Staying connected with friends and family, especially those who are elderly, vulnerable or live alone is a great way to show support and understanding and spread good cheer
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out: Pay attention to how you are feeling and reach out to people in your support network for comfort and understanding. If you need additional support, seek care from a trained professional. If you are feeling suicidal or unsafe, go to your nearest emergency department or crisis center. Your life matters
  • NARCAN kits: Too many loved ones are being lost to opioid overdose in Ontario. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, even if rare, have a NARCAN kit handy. NARCAN is a prescription medicine used to treat a known or suspected opioid overdose. It could save a life
  • Make the holidays your own: Life isn’t always warm and fuzzy like holiday commercials. You deserve credit for everything you’ve overcome and any negativity you’ve had to tolerate. Celebrate your accomplishments and make the holidays your own  
  • Resources: For more information and support:

About the OMA

The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario’s 43,000-plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario’s health-care system.

For more information, please contact:
OMA Media Relations