Oh, those November Blahs!
They sneak up on you because you don't expect them

by Marty Brown
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 011/96) - Everybody expects the February blahs so they plan to either go to Mexico, entertain or buy themselves a present to combat the problem.

But what about the November blahs? That's the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas when it starts to get really dark early in the day and there's no festive occasions planned unless it's a birthday or anniversary.

Northerners get up in the dark, go home in the dark and there's no point hoping the weather will improve because it won't.

The November blahs sneak up on you because you don't expect them.

If you are one of those efficient people who have their Christmas shopping done, you may think there's nothing to do in November except eat.

The problem could be medical.

Isabelle Wilcox in Fort Smith found she was sleeping 12 to 14 hours a day and was still tired. She got relief from seasonal affective disorder from a half-hour session with a full-spectrum light that brings spring light levels to dark winter days. She says she feels like a new person.

But what happens if you aren't depressed from lack of light -- you're just a little gloomy because the next six months in the North will be in winter?

Don't fight it. Winter is here and it will be cold and dark. So what to do to cheer up?

Barb Hood, executive director with the NWT branch of Canadian Mental Health Association, acknowledges the problem.

She advises people to build on relationships, volunteer, try something new and enjoy the winter.

"Reach out to others," she says, suggesting babysitting for new parents, dog walking or Christmas baking with a shut-in.

Do something with color. Paint the walls, paint pictures, paint the kids (with water-soluble paint) or tie-dye something. Sounds therapeutic? Who cares -- it works. Home made Christmas cards could be fun to make.

Take advantage of the remaining sunlight and walk outside during lunch hours and coffee breaks. Stephane Labonne, for one, is working on a face tan.

Labonne, recreation coordinator in Cambridge Bay, says the sense of smell gets frozen so people can be cheered up by the use of air fresheners or potpourri in their homes.

Just being aware the blahs could sneak up on you is sometimes good enough. The best defence can be an offence and remember: November only has 30 days and with December comes the holiday season.