Mental Health and Mood Disorders are a very real and a serious thing that a lot of people struggle with. Vancouver can be a really difficult city to live in in the winter, especially if you struggle with these (and aren’t a winter sports enthusiast). Seawall walks aren’t very fun anymore and the hiking trails are often closed. The rain makes you blue and the cold cuts right through. There are ways of feeling better and helping to unf*ck your brain naturally, before picking up the meds and falling into zombie mode.
Aromatherapy is the use of Essential Oils to improve your mood. They won’t necessarily cure depression, but they can help some of the psychological and physical symptoms linked with depression. Some research has shown that using essential oils may improve sleep, enhance mood, and improve a person’s quality of life. Essential oils may also help lessen symptoms of anxiety, which are common in people with depression. Saje and Vitruvi are local companies that make 100% pure essential oils at affordable prices.
Visit | Saje
9 Vitamin D
Sunlight exposure is the primary source of vitamin D for most people, so when it’s MIA for 6 months, you become deficient, which leads to depression and other diseases. Eating foods and taking Vitamin D supplements are really important to keep your levels up. You can also visit the tanning salon. There’s also a healthier alternative, biotech device Solius, which provides Vitamin D in the same way you use a stand-up tanning bed, but without the negative effects of UVA rays (and TVs with beaches around the world).
Visit | BioPro Biologics Pharmacy
Practiced in Europe for the treatment of depression, Halotherapy (salt therapy), claims to work really well. The treatment involves sitting in a room (often referred to as a salt cave, house, or bath) filled with rock salt and inhaling salty air that’s being pumped in by a halogenerator. 45 minutes in the room and you’ll feel like you’re in a beach for days.
Visit | Saltwonder Himalayan Salt Cave
Deficiencies in many vitamins and minerals have been associated with depression, like magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, and potassium (we’re not nutritionists or dietitians, so talking to them first before stocking up), but talking an overall multivitamin never hurt anyone.
Pills – Supplements like Fish Oils, B-Complex, 5-HTP and Theanine all help de-stress, relax and keep your body moving at max capacity.
Powders – You can also get your vitamins for the day through meal replacement or protein powders. For women – there’s a new local powder, Aura Nutrition specifically for you with potassium, calcium, and iron for added energy.
Intravenous – IV drips deliver high doses of vitamins, minerals and amino acids in combinations straight into your bloodstream to treat low energy, anxiety and a lot of other symptoms faster and with more absorption.
6 Sensory Deprivation Therapy
Sensory deprivation (or floating) has been used forever by humans as a tool to sharpen the mind, prepare for a rite of passage, conduct rigorous meditation, and to reach Nirvana. You may not be Buddha, but it can help you too. Society’s increasing obsession with technology and constant external stimulation has created an anxiety epidemic. Float tanks mute the noise with body temperature water filled with Epsom Salts so you have no senses at all and can be left with just you and your thoughts. Sounds scary, but it’s actually very relaxing and you can even get in a nap.
Visit | Floathouse
While we’d all love to stuff our faces with pizza every day, all day, it’s not going to make us feel very good (unless you’re living in Italy, drinking wine on a patio overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea). Foods containing high amounts of sugar, processing or fried have all been linked to depression. Meat, fish, leafy greens, vegetables, beans, nuts, grains and dark chocolate all boost your brain and body’s functioning so it can run at maximum capacity and elevates your serotonin levels to make you happier. There’s another source that isn’t really great for your mental wellbeing either – the big C (not the Yaletown kind of C). Caffeine. Lots of cafes have been coming up with alternative offerings like Matcha, Turmeric Lattes, Adaptogen Lattes and Pink (beet) lattes, so you can still feel that warm cup in your hands.
Check out our list of Fast Food in Vancouver here.
It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re depressed, but going for a run or hitting the gym can actually make you feel better. When done regularly, 30 minutes or more of vigorous exercise has been shown to improve the symptoms of depression. Joining a gym or studio with fitness classes like Equinox or Oxygen Yoga (bonus points for infrared that heats + detoxes your body) will also give you the community and human interaction you may be missing out on, so you can check out these chic studios.
3 Furry Friends
The bond man has with his dog is like none other. The human-animal interaction research has proved positive changes in physiological variables both in humans and animals, including a reduction stress, fear and anxiety and an increase of oxytocin levels in the brain. They give you unconditional love, kisses and they’re never mad when you mess up (unlike your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/husband/wife/so). Don’t have one? You can get a pet from the BC SPCA. Don’t have time for a full-time pup? Parttime Pooch allows you to rent a pup for any amount of time to get your fill.
Visit | BC SPCA
Listening to music has been an alternative therapy since it was invented, but when you actually make music with your voice, you add several other healing elements, as well. By opening your mouth to sing, you smile and when you smile, you feel happier (fake it til you make it). You’re also breathing in more oxygen, which tells your brain to chill out. If nothing else, singing is just really fun so belt it out in the shower or you can hit up one of Vancouver’s many karaoke bars.
Visit | Fantacity Karaoke
Depression is no joke… but this is. Why does Snoop Dogg carry an umbrella? Fo drizzle! Feel better already? Researchers found that laughter appears to stimulate brain regions involved in depression, mediating stress, the immune system and social relationships. So the next time you’re feeling down, head to a comedy show for unlimited laughs.
Lastly, put on some rain boots and jacket, go outside and embrace the rain like you did when you were a kid!