Seasonal Affective Disorder (AKA Winter Blues)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (Aka winter Blues) 

With the rainy season returning to Vancouver as we get deeper into fall, many people are prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD or the winter blues).

Lessening daylight as the year comes to an end can affect Vitamin D levels that we usually obtain from direct exposure to sunlight.  The combination of time change and shorter days can have a major impact on your daily rhythms and can cause some people to have a harder time making this adjustment.

SAD can be difficult and frustrating to navigate. Our moods and energy levels fluctuate with the seasons and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) understands these cycles in ways modern life does not. These days, you are expected to be active, productive and creative at all times of the year. There is no accommodation for a slow, quiet winter. We also have to take into account the effects of the recent years of working from home, social isolation, and quarantining. According to TCM, this conflict causes stress, which can result in SAD.

Traditional Acupuncture (TA) can provide relief of SAD symptoms, including depression, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue. In TCM, these symptoms are due to energetic imbalances of your Qi (energy/life force) and acupuncture can help regulate energy flow, prevent stagnation and restore balance; bringing relief both mentally and physically.

For example, one point that would be used to treat SAD is Yintang, located in between both eyebrows.  This point is known to stimulate the pineal gland, which responds to light and seasonal changes.  This is also a great point for self-acupressure to relieve stress and tension headaches. Apply gentle pressure or tapping to the point for 20-30 seconds, as often as needed throughout the day.

With Traditional Acupuncture, each patient is diagnosed holistically, taking into account both mental and physical symptoms.  A diagnosis is made based on the individual and addresses the root cause of their symptoms. The frequency of acupuncture treatments depends on the severity of SAD symptoms and usually occurs one to two times per week for 3 to 4 weeks.  Traditional acupuncture works best as a cumulative therapy, with each treatment building on the last, so it is important to not have too much time in between treatments at the start.  After the initial set of appointments, a patient is then reassessed and can start having treatments on a maintenance basis; once every 6-8 weeks.

Some Traditional Chinese Medicine tips for the Autumn/Winter:

  • Practice quiet yin activities like restorative yoga, Tai Chi/Qi Gong, long walks, journaling.
  • Eat warm, slow-cooked stews and soups.
  • Limit cold drinks and raw vegetables.
  • Go outside and soak up the sunshine when weather permits.
  • Rebuild your energy with acupuncture to prepare for Spring.
  • Go to bed earlier and limit screen time after dinner.
  • Take advantage of extended health benefits before the year ends and consult a counsellor, a naturopath, or a physiotherapist.
TIP:  As the year comes to a close, make sure to take advantage of your extended health benefits as most plans provide coverage for acupuncture treatments with a licensed acupuncturist. Whether you’re seeking relief from pain, stress reduction, or overall wellness, this is the perfect time to check your coverage and schedule your acupuncture session.

By Yvonne Sui (Registered Acupuncturist, Treloar Physiotherapy Kerrisdale)

Back to School Blueprint: Prioritizing Sweat, Step, Sleep, and Sit for Well-being

Back to School Blueprint: Prioritizing Sweat, Step, Sleep, and Sit for Well-being

Are your children ready for class and all their extra-curricular activities coming September? The Canadian Guidelines for Physical Activity have provided a few recommendations to help encourage youth to live a healthy lifestyle.

1. Sweat:

An accumulation of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity involving various aerobic activities. Vigorous physical activities and muscle and bone strengthening activities should be incorporated at least thrice weekly.

2. Step:

Several hours of a variety of structured and unstructured light physical activity

3. Sleep

Uninterrupted 9-11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5-13 and 8-10 years hours per night for those aged 14-17 years with consistent bed and wake-up times.

4. Sit:

 No more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time; limited sitting for extended periods

Returning to Sports?

If your children are returning to a specific sport or activity this fall, consider the following tips to avoid injury. A common cause of muscle injury is overload – doing too much too soon. Muscle strains occur when the tissue exceeds its loading capacity. Here are a few tips to help manage the risk of injury: Arrive 15-20 minutes before practice to ensure adequate warm-up before activity. 

  1. Sport-specific training (i.e. a warm-up for a baseball player should incorporate sprint training in addition to catching/throwing drills) 
  2. Gradual increase in training load, otherwise known as volume (try to increase one of the following variables at a time: frequency, intensity, duration) 
  3. Get yourself back to baseline (this includes a low-intensity activity to help you lower your heart rate, hydration, refuelling & rest) 



Physiotherapists can assist with injury prevention, sport-specific training and recovery from injury. If you have more questions, contact one of our experts at Treloar Physiotherapy! 


By Jamie Mistry (Registered Physiotherapist, Treloar Physiotherapy Kerrisdale)

Just Keep Swimming – Six Reasons Swimming is Fantastic for Your Health

Just Keep Swimming – Six Reasons Swimming is Fantastic for Your Health

Amidst these scorching summer days here in BC, there’s nothing like a refreshing swim, but swimming has many health benefits besides being a fantastic way to cool off.

One significant aspect of water-based exercises is the hydrostatic effect of water, which has fantastic therapeutic benefits. The pressure can alleviate pain by reducing swelling and calming our sympathetic nervous system. As a result, pool-based exercises and swimming can benefit those in post-recovery (like ankle sprains, knee replacements, etc.) and facilitate a faster recovery.

But the benefits don’t stop there! Other great aspects include:

1. Low-impact exercise:

Unlike many other forms of exercise, swimming is low-impact, which puts less stress on joints. Being low-impact makes swimming an ideal activity for people of all ages, including those with joint pain/sprains, arthritis, or other mobility concerns.

2. Flexibility and balance:

Swimming enhances stability and coordination and helps those who fear falling to practice safe balance drills in waist-height water. It also improves joint flexibility through various strokes and positions.

3. Improved posture:

Swimming helps strengthen the muscles that support the spine, leading to better posture and reduced risk of developing back problems or aches.

4. Cardiovascular health:

Swimming elevates the heart rate, improves blood circulation, and reduces the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

5. Full-body workout:

Swimming engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing comprehensive exercise for the entire body. It strengthens the arms, shoulders, back, core, and legs, improving muscle tone and overall strength.

6. Weight management:

Swimming is a calorie-burning activity that can aid in weight management and loss. It helps burn many calories while providing a fun and refreshing workout.


Before taking a dip or starting any exercise program (like hydrotherapy/pool-based rehab), consult your doctor and physiotherapist, especially if you have any underlying health concerns. Stay safe, and just keep swimming!

Physiotherapist Ania Stojek wrote this article.