Lifestyle & Parenting

Daring Billboards Aim To Help You Fight The Winter Blues

November 6, 2023

Canadian wellness brand, Listen B*tch launched a series of daring billboards across Toronto this season to help uplift people struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which 15 per cent of Canadians will experience in their lifetime. These head-turning billboards will feature bold affirmations such as, “It might get dark at 4 p.m., but you have all the light you need inside you,” and “If your SAD is starting to kick in then kick the hell out of it.” The billboards are part of a mental health initiative aimed at raising awareness about SAD, which often starts in November, and is the brand’s unconventional approach to supporting Torontonians and Canadians who are affected. We chatted with Listen B*tch founders Danelia and Michelle to learn more. —Noa Nichol

When and why did you launch Listen B*tch? What niche were/are you aiming to fill?

The Listen B*tchbrand was born in 2021. After a year like 2020 we were desperately in need of some positivity and we figured everyone else was, too. We kickstarted this journey when we struggled to find affirmation cards that sounded like us. Affirmations work best when they’re spoken with conviction and we had trouble doing so when the tone and texture of the words we were seeing didn’t reflect how we actually spoke. And that’s not a knock on other affirmation cards out there – I’m sure many people find them helpful. But we needed affirmations that were more raw and more real so we decided to do it ourselves.

What products/services do you currently offer, and what makes them unique?

We currently offer our signature Listen B*tch Affirmation deck as well as our Listen B*tch Affirmation journal. Affirmation cards are tools that help you empower and uplift yourself. But if you’re like us, sometimes it takes a little tough love to get words to cut through and take root. Listen B*tch affirmation cards are designed to give you the extra push you may need to rebuild your confidence or get our sh*t together. The words on these cards may sound familiar because they’re the types of words we actually say to the ones we love when we’re uplifting them. They’re honest, and unfiltered – but they work. We also focused on design being a fundamental approach to the cards – creating a minimalist look that both gave a sense of calm and empowerment. Our journal, similar to the cards, also uses unfiltered language and helps you start each day with positivity, gratitude, and self-reflection. Our affirmation journal also includes a daily page for you to fill in your own affirmation or pair it with a card you pull from our signature deck.

For those who don’t know, what is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Who does it affect, and how?

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year. It usually happens in the fall or winter and appears to be triggered by changes in the amount of sunlight. The major symptom is a sad, despairing mood but can extend beyond that to include changes in appetite, sleep problems, loss of interest in hobbies and withdrawal from friends and family. No one is immune to SAD however it’s most common to start in early adulthood.

How is your new billboard campaign tied to SAD, and what does it aim to do?

We’re doing this because contrary to popular belief, this time of year is often the most difficult period for a lot of Canadians because November is typically when seasonal affective disorder starts to peak. So while some people get wrapped up in holiday cheer, a lot of people are on a different trajectory and undergoing some pretty serious mental hardships. It is estimated that SAD makes up 10% of all reported cases of depression. Approximately 15% of Canadians. Our hope is that this campaign will make people who are suffering feel seen and uplifted. And we’re hoping that people who are completely unaware about S.A.D will realize that people close to them may be suffering in silence and hopefully check in on their loved ones.

Why do you feel it’s especially important to bring attention to SAD now?

November is typically when SAD begins. We also know that this upcoming weekend (The weekend of November 4-5th) is daylight savings, which means turning back the clock one hour. The days are already getting shorter, and this will feel especially true after this weekend.

Does your campaign have a give-back aspect to it?

During the month of November we will be donating a portion of profits from every unit sold to CAMH.

Where can we find the billboards (and when are you coming to Vancouver, where we don’t see the sun for eight months straight)?!

You can find billboards across Toronto. We are at Queen and Triller, Queen and Noble, Queen and Augusta, Dundas and Mavety, and College and Clinton. Who knows – perhaps Vancouver will be next!

Finally, have you personally experienced/struggled with SAD? Any tips to alleviate the feeling?

We have both experienced SAD, and understand how challenging it can be during the fall and winter months. We have implemented tools such as light therapy and exercise but even with those it can still feel insurmountable. What we both aim to do is fight it as best we can and push ourselves to get outside, make plans, and see friends. The more you hide away, the more the feeling of despair can ease in. We, of course though, always encourage people to see professional help. After all, SAD is a form of depression and should be taken seriously.


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