The third Monday in January is considered the most depressing day of the year in our hemisphere. We can’t deny the lacklustre feelings we get this season. It’s cold, grey, and generally blah. We’re also coming off a month-long high of festive eating, drinking, and gatherings. FU weight gain! It’s also when our holiday shopping bills have started rolling in. Sigh. This seasonal mood can hit hard but how can we help ourselves as well as others around us that may seem a little blue?
Most often, we know that it’s a temporary feeling but if it feels like something more, know there are resources available to all of us. Please check with your healthcare professional to seek advice. We are no experts by any means so we’ve linked a few interesting reads below that we’ve found useful.
So, what can we do to help ourselves? Even a simple walk in the great outdoors can do wonders! Here are some ideas that we’ve found useful to help boost our energy, to get us out of that funk, and hopefully will make this time of year not sooooo blahhhh…
LEARN SOMETHING NEW:
Whether it’s daily or weekly try something that can change things up for you. Depending on your timing, try a one-off workshop or with more time sign up for a series of classes. Take a hands-on workshop (tufting, knitting, flower arranging, music mixing, dance class, photography) or join in a special talk to gain insight into an artist and their work.
Fuzzy Lab: (3250 Yonge Street, Toronto) create your own masterpiece in a form of a rug or a work of art! Create from your own image or find one in their library. Instructors are present to explain how to tuft and all the supplies are there. Book your time solo or with friends and family.
CLAYming Interconnectedness: Here and Now at the Gardiner Museum: February 7 this two-hour workshop, participants will explore simple physical practices with clay, using our sense of touch and breath exercises to bring us into the present moment while simultaneously deepening and expanding our awareness that we are all related. Check site for other great workshops!
Panel Discussion: Denyse Thomasos at the AGO: January 21. The late Trinidadian-Canadian artist Denyse Thomasos (1964-2012) left an indelible, yet frequently overlooked, mark on contemporary painting. A career retrospective, Denyse Thomasos: just beyond, brings together more than 70 paintings and works on paper, many rarely seen, to show how she challenged the limits of abstraction, infusing personal and political content onto her canvases through the innovative use of formalist techniques. In conjunction with the exhibition, join Gaëtane Verna, Executive Director of the Wexner Centre for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, and Franklin Sirmans, Director of the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, Florida for a discussion on their respective experiences working with Thomasos, and their unique insights into her practice. This conversation will be moderated by exhibition co-curator Michelle Jacques.
In-Person Hands-On Past from the South Dinner and Workshop at Eataly: Various Dates. Transform simple ingredients into intricate pasta shapes inspired by the rich traditions of every Italian region using simple high-quality ingredients. Making fresh pasta may seem daunting, but it is a simple luxury that you can enjoy every day. Learn all the secrets behind the southern Italian traditional fresh pastas and how to make them at home. Learn how to pair the right pasta shapes with sauces and enjoy two pasta dishes prepared by their chefs all at La Scuola di Eataly Toronto. Full details on their site. Northern Italy traditions also offered in a separate workshop.
Improv (Drop-in and In-Person) at Second City: (1 York Street) Ever wanted to try Improv? This non-committal and fun, relaxed drop-in class is perfect to get a taste of what it’s like. No experience necessary. Instructors offer up a few introductory skills of improvised comedy. Learn games and exercises in a 90 minute session. Then if you crave more join in their next level Improv classes for adults! BTW Second City has a shiny new home in Toronto!
DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT:
If your days and nights have become routine get out and experience something different and maybe even outside of your comfort zone to fuel the mind, body and soul.
Othership: here’s a way to help regulate yourself and your emotions in a transformational way. Take the bathhouse concept and make it social. Join one of their fun and challenging guided group sessions that incorporates breathwork in the warmth of their sauna as well as ice bath. You’ll feel re-energized, re-vitalized, full of joy and peace.
Puppy Yoga: A paw-sitively fun twist on your yoga session is to be surrounded by adorable puppies. There are several offerings in the city. Also, take a look at Goat Yoga in the summer and fall months at Haute Goat – just an hour’s drive outside of the city. Guaranteed mood booster.
Visit a Gallery: You don’t have to spend an entire day at the gallery but focus on a specific collection or the latest exhibition to explore. Current exhibitions in Toronto include Karine Giboulo’s Housewarming (Gardiner Museum), LEONARD COHEN: Everybody Knows (AGO), Ken Monkman: Being Legendary (ROM), Canadian Modern (ROM), Wildlife Photographer of the Year (ROM), Afghanistan: My Love (Aga Khan Museum).
Seeing The Invisible: An Outdoor Augmented Reality Exhibition (MOCA) in partnership with the City of Toronto and Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation. Presented for the first time by a museum and in free public spaces, the exhibition includes AR works by thirteen internationally recognized artists: Ai Weiwei, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Sarah Meyohas, Timur Si-Qin, Isaac Julien CBE RA, Ori Gersht, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, Pamela Rosenkranz, Mohammed Kazem, Mel O’Callaghan, Daito Manabe, and Sigalit Landau.
Get last minute tickets to a musical or theatre show: From large scale productions (Harry Potter and The Cursed Child) to independent productions there is a lot happening in the city and often at affordable price points even last minute. Also, consider one of the Immersive experiences like Disney Immersive or Van Gogh.
Try a cuisine might be new to you: Toronto is known as a culinary playground and literally you could eat your way around the world each night of the year. Enjoy Egyptian fare at Papyrus (Danforth). Try Indigenous fare at Pow Wow Cafe (Kensington Market). Explore Syrian food at Zezafoun (Midtown). Eat like you’re at a Chinese Night Market at Superfresh (Annex).
TV Series inspired night in (or out): invite your besties over and have a pot-luck dinner with your favourite watch or rewatch show themed night in! Emily in Paris immediately comes to mind! Baguettes (or McBaguettes)! Kir Royale! Croissants! Macarons!
MINDFULNESS & INTENTIONS:
Yes, they may feel like buzz words these days but for many it’s a these are lifelong commitment to a healthier mindset. While we can attend mindfulness workshops and set our intentions within our yoga practice we’ve found journalling also helps to keep us on track – and it’s something we can do for ourselves to reflect and remind ourselves of our journey.
The Self Love Planner: This undated weekly planner goes along with your schedule. It offers reflection prompts, empowering exercises for your very personal journey. Learn why and how to set intentions, the seven segments of self-love, promotes alignments with checkpoints to help recalibrate and focus. Written by U.S. based Dr. Shainna Ali, a license mental health counsellor, educator and advocate who is dedicated to highlighting important role of mental health in fostering happiness, fulfillment and overall wellness.
The 369 Manifestation Journal: this 52 week guide by Berni Johnson uses divine numbers and laws of attraction techniques to help users manifest their desires. Also undated, this guided journal combines holistic exercises like visualization, gratitude practice, and positive affirmations. Learn about the history of laws of attraction and how to use divine numbers. Daily exercises come with explanations and space to practice and reflect. It also is supported by pages of references.
GET YOUR SLEEP:
Take advantage of this quieter time and get comfortable in your feelings and in your bed. Grab the most perfect cozy pyjamas and find a podcast or series to help you fall into a sweet slumber.
The Sleep Sound by Noah Reid on Audible.ca: this series of audio scenic adventure takes us to new wintry worlds through immersive, high quality nature soundscapes recorded by some of the best field recordists in the world. Fall asleep to the soothing voice of actor Noah Reid (Patrick on Schitt’s Creek!) as he guides us through the sounds of the snowy Estonian countryside, with a fire on the shores of an icy lake, and of a Finnish forest as it begins to thaw and reawaken – just to name a few spots.
Apple Fitness+ NEW guided Sleep Meditation: 20-minute meditations are designed to help users release tension and anxiety. Find it in the Meditation library on the app. New sleep meditation will be added every week and each practice can be done as part of a wind-down routine or while drifting off to sleep. The Sleep theme joins nine other meditation themes including Calm, Gratitude, Resilience, and Creativity.
After a heavy eating season filled with rich and fatty foods, it’s good to bring back the nutrients into our system. Load up with delicious comforting soups and stews – great to make in big batches and even swap with friends. Cookie exchange? We say soup exchange time! Roast those veggies and make it comfortable. And don’t forget to stay hydrated.
A few recipes to try…(click on for recipes)
Three Bean Chili (Pressure Cooker)
It’s easy to stay home over the winter months and indulge in the latest royal gossip but do yourself a favour and keep moving! Have a solo dance party at home, find a new workout through Apple Fitness+ including the new KickBoxing workouts, get back on your Peloton, or grab your friends and find your closest Orange Theory Studio. Even if it’s just going for walks it will make you feel better! Have a friend who has a dog? Tag along for a walk and nab a goodboy cuddle at the end.
Also, if you’re thinking about a new work out routine grab yourself a fresh new workout outfit! Make it cute! Freshen up the colours or stick with your badass black outfit — all good! Check out Verzus — a Canadian brand new to the market that has impressive technical fabrics for comfort, keeping the appearance of sweat and odor under control.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF:
Take each day as it comes and be kind to yourself. Know that you’re doing your best and it’s okay to give yourself a break.
Resources worth checking out:
*Lead in feature photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash