SASKATOON -- With the winter months fast approaching and the potential for tougher COVID-19 restrictions in the province, now is the time to focus on your mental health, according to a Saskatoon psychologist.

Stephen Boechler, a psychologist at Crossroads Therapeutic Solutions, said winter is often a time when people struggle with seasonal depression – something he said will likely be made even more challenging this year due to the pandemic. 

“It’s going to have an impact for that increased isolation, and also the loss of activities that people often do in the winter as part of their recreation and social connection,” he told CTV News. 

Boechler said his practice has already seen an increase in calls over the last few months. 

He said COVID-19 has heightened some people’s feelings of anxiety and loneliness, making them want to find someone to talk to about it. 

His practice currently offers some in-person sessions with strict cleaning in between as well as virtual options. 

"Some clients actually responded to it really well. They were more comfortable and settled in their own environment,” Boechler said. 

The Student Wellness Centre at the University of Saskatchewan is also offering virtual counselling sessions for students.

Kyle Schwartz, a social worker there, said there are other ways people can work on improving their mental health at home. One way he suggests is by creating a routine. 

"When we think about a routine that we would typically follow in the office or at school or just a typical day. It's helpful for our functioning to know when something will start or stop or when we can transition into something else. And we need to have sometimes those things to look forward to,” Schwartz said. 

As for Dr. Boechler, one of his biggest tips is to not focus on what's missing, but instead on what opportunities are available. 

"I think it's going to create some of that winter opportunity in Saskatchewan for arts, cultural things, family connections and it's really up to us to make use of those opportunities."

He is also reminding people that it is okay to reach out for help. 

"Just because we can do it alone, doesn't mean we have to. And there is support and services and connections that can help this journey be easier."