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Alleviate Winter Blues Symptoms with Window Films

Winter can be a difficult time of year for many of us.

The long, cold nights, shorter days and lack of sunlight can prompt some to experience increased fatigue and feelings of sadness, also known as the winter blues.

For some people, though, these changes in mood may be more serious, occurring year after year, and lasting throughout the fall and winter months. In fact, seasonal depression is more common than you might think. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, as many as 35 percent of Canadians complain of having the “winter blues.” Another 10 to 15 percent have a mild form of seasonal depression, while about two to five percent of Canadians will have a severe, clinical form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

While we cannot change the weather, there are ways you can alleviate some of the symptoms. Before we delve into a list of coping mechanisms, let’s spend some more time discussing seasonal depression. 

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, according to the Canadian Association of Mental Health, is a form of depression that occurs during the same season each year. It typically occurs in the fall or winter, but some may experience season-linked symptoms in the summer.

Many also experience a milder form of SAD, often referred to as the “winter blues.” However, unlike SAD, these temporary feelings of sadness and fatigue are not debilitating.

What Causes SAD?

Many Canadians suffer from SAD. Some may not even realize they have the condition.

Statistically, it’s found to occur more often in women than in men, and in areas where there are shorter daylight hours in the winter.

While there isn’t a definitive cause, throughout the years, experts have presented their fair share of theories.

When SAD was first officially described in psychiatric literature in 1984, melatonin was believed to be the cause. However, the light-sensitive hormone could not account for the depression experienced across seasons.

Researchers then went on to analyze how changes in serotonin and the depletion of tryptophan, a natural precursor of the brain chemical, affected moods. They found that some people with SAD may have reduced activity of serotonin. Studies also found that sunlight controls the levels of molecules that help maintain normal serotonin levels, but in people with SAD, this system does not function properly, resulting in decreased serotonin levels in the winter.

Other findings suggest seasonal changes that disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm, the 24-hour clock that regulates how we function during sleeping and waking hours, could trigger the onset of SAD. During the day, your brain sends signals to parts of your body to help keep you awake and ready for action. But the limited amount of daylight experienced in the winter can confuse your internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.

What are the symptoms? 

Since SAD is a type of depression characterized by a seasonal pattern, the signs and symptoms include those associated with major depression. There are also some symptoms that are specific to winter-pattern SAD. Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feelings of depression that happen most of the day, every day, in a seasonal pattern
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Oversleeping
  • Low energy
  • Changes in appetite, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates 

To varying degrees, all of us are somewhat affected by the lack of sunlight during the shorter days of the year, as much as 18 percent of Canadians are in some way affected according to the Red Cross. Telltale signs include a lack of enthusiasm and energy, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, as well as changes in appetite. 

SAD and Workplace Productivity 

SAD can take a toll on all aspects of your life, including work.

Within the workplace, those who suffer from the disorder may experience a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, burnout, sadness, guilt, or hopelessness.

A 2020 article by Forbes indicates that SAD can specifically negatively affect motivation and diminish workplace communication and productivity. They also found that workers with the disorder were more prone to injuries, accidents, and absenteeism, which cost businesses $51 billion annually.

Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, a lack of natural light in the workplace can still harm your productivity and well-being. A research poll surveying North American employees found that 47 percent of employees admit to feeling tired or very tired from the absence of natural light or a window at their office, impeding their overall productivity and satisfaction.

Research by Cornell University only reinforces this proposed connection between natural light and employee well-being. The study reports that workers exposed to optimal daylight had a 2 percent increase in productivity, which is equivalent to an additional $100,000 a year for every 100 workers. Employees with optimized natural light also reported an 84 percent drop in symptoms of eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision symptoms, all of which can hinder productivity if not addressed.

Combating the winter blues 

Whether you’re experiencing a case of the winter blues or seasonal depression, there are several ways you can manage the symptoms. 

Keep Active 

Regular exercise has been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of SAD. It can also reduce stress, improve your mood, increase your ability to learn and concentrate, and boost your energy levels.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym each day. Doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week can significantly improve symptoms.

Maintain a healthy diet

Never underestimate the power of a healthy diet. A well-balanced diet can help manage the symptoms of SAD by boosting your mood and increasing energy. For instance, a 1993 study found that people in Iceland experience fewer cases of SAD than those on the east coast of the U.S. – despite being farther north and experiencing less sunlight. Their diet, which is high in fish containing a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids, is shown to reduce the occurrence of SAD.

Consider adding more fish to your diet, including oily varieties like tuna or salmon. If you don’t eat fish, you can opt for other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed, walnuts, beef, or brussel sprouts.

Spend some time outside

Symptoms of SAD and the winter blues are exacerbated by a lack of sunlight. Thus, getting outside when the sun is up is crucial.

Just a few minutes a day has been proven to improve both our moods and physical health, leading to reduced stress and increased self-esteem. 

Try light therapy

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is one of the most popular ways to treat symptoms of SAD and the winter blues. It works by compensating for the lack of light we are accustomed to getting during the brighter months.

Light therapy involves exposure to high levels of intense light, emitted by a light box, for a specific amount of time, typically 15-30 minutes, first thing in the morning. 

Let in the natural light you love with 3M™ Window Films 

While the above methods are great ways to help lessen the blow of seasonal depression, there is one that takes the lead – 3M Window Film. These window films allow you to maximize the benefits of natural light while protecting you, your loved ones, and your furnishings from the detrimental effects of ultraviolet rays.

Exposure to sunlight, especially in the morning, increases your serotonin and helps you stave off SAD. However, too much of it, without protection, can cause unwarranted effects such as glare and thermal stress. Curtains and blinds may mitigate these issues, but this comes at the expense of a naturally lit space. 3M™ Window Film allows you to reap the benefits of the sun while keeping heat and sun damage out.

What we offer: Available 3M™ Sun Control Solutions 

For decades 3M has remained the world leader in the development of innovative sun control window film technology. They remain to be the only window film manufacturer to produce their own polyesters and adhesives. In fact, due to 3M’s ability to develop multiple-layer micro-thin polyester films, their films are able to outperform all others of similar thickness.

As an authorized 3M Window Film dealer, we offer several solutions that allow you to maximize the benefits of natural light without the drawbacks. Learn a bit about each of them below:

3M™ Prestige Series Window Film 

3M™ Prestige Window Film provides unparalleled sun control performance. Until recently, most window films that rejected heat were tinted dark and used metals. Then the Prestige came along.

These superior films are made without metals and as a result, are the first clear films to offer a variety of selections and perform to the industry’s highest standards.

The multi-layer film combines lower-than-glass reflectivity and permits anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of natural light into your home, allowing you to reap the benefits of sunlight all year round.

3M™ Prestige Series Benefits: 
  • Rejects up to 97 percent of infrared rays, providing energy savings and enhanced comfort
  • Clear to lightly tinted, allows up to 70 percent of the visible light through your windows
  • Low reflection enhances views and overall beauty
  • Extends the life of furnishings by rejecting UV rays
  • Reduces glare and eye discomfort
  • Designed not to alter the appearance of your home 

Learn more about our assortment of Prestige Films here. 

3M™ Night Vision Window Film 

3M™Night Vision Window Film provides protection from the sun’s damaging UV rays and controls heat and glare while increasing comfort.

This series of window films maximizes sun control capabilities while toning down the interior reflectivity to provide clear, unobstructed views, especially at night.

3M™ Night Vision Benefits:
  • Allows for clear views, day, and night
  • Rejects up to 71 percent of the sun’s heat to help reduce glare and eye discomfort
  • Protects furnishings from harmful UV rays
  • Made with a scratch-resistant coating to ensure clear views
  • Prohibits the use of blinds or window coverings 

Learn more about the Night Vision Window Films here. 

4 Benefits of 3M™ Sun Control Window Film

In addition to helping you ease symptoms of SAD during the winter months, 3M™ Sun Control Window Film offers a whole host of other benefits.

Extends life of furnishings 

Carpeting, panelling, desks, wood, drapes, and valuable upholstered furniture can quickly lose value when damaged by prolonged exposure to the sun. 3M™ Sun Control Window Films work to protect your valuable assets. 

By addressing the three major contributors to fading - UV rays, visible sunlight, and solar heat – 3M Window Films dramatically slow down the process of fading, protecting your investment and keeping your home or office looking beautiful for the years to come.

Provides UV Protection 

The UVA rays streaming through your windows can cause significant damage to your eyes and skin. They may also contribute to visible signs of aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer.

3M™ Sun Control Window Film blocks over 99 percent of UV light through your windows, protecting you, your loved ones, and your valuable assets from irreparable sun damage.

Reduces Glare and Eye Discomfort 

Glare, thanks to the sun’s changing angles, is an even greater challenge in the winter.

While the solution is often drapes or blinds, doing so obstructs both natural light and your view, which as we discussed earlier, can exacerbate the symptoms of seasonal depression. Consider installing 3M™ Sun Control Window Films instead! These films have anti-glare properties that reduce glare and eyestrain by as much as 78 percent all while allowing natural light to shine through. 

Offers Energy Savings and Enhanced Comfort 

More of your home’s energy is lost through its windows than any other source. In the winter alone, windows and doors account for 18 to 20 percent of heat loss.

By providing an invisible thermal shield that prevents heat from escaping, 3M™ Window Films can help you control your building’s temperature and energy costs for a more comfortable and affordable home. 

Make your health a priority with 3M™ Window Film

Experience natural sunlight and all its benefits with 3M™ Window Film.

For over 40 years, the Convenience Group has been a master Canadian distributor and authorized dealer of 3M Architectural and Window Films. We offer leading-edge innovative products, expert installation, and superior design for both commercial and residential applications across the country.


If you’re interested in learning more about our 3M™ Sun Control Window Films or would like assistance finding something that works for your home or commercial space, contact Convenience Group today! Call our office at 416-233-6900, fill out the following form, or arrange a tour of our showroom, to get started.