25 Ways To Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder

After Daylight Savings Time hits, the days get shorter (well, we have less sunlight during the day), and it affects a lot of people. Some people have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a real mental illness and should always be treated with professional help such as therapy, but even if you don’t have SAD, you still may feel blue and have a hard time getting energetic, excited, or just happy in general during these cold months with very little sunlight.

The good news is that everything is cyclical, and winter will eventually end. On December 21st, the days start to get longer and longer as we move towards spring. The other good news is it’s not a hopeless situation while we’re still in winter. There are actually a lot of things you can do to make the most of winter and to do your best to beat those winter blues, especially when we’re talking about a lack of sunlight! I made a list of 25 ways to cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but this can help you even if you don’t have a diagnosis. Let’s check it out!

25 Ways To Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder | Uncustomary

25 Ways Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder

1. Try to keep as regular of a sleep schedule as possible (it’s okay to go to bed a little earlier) to keep your circadian rhythm consistent.
2. Make it a point it get outside while the sun is still out every day so your body is not only getting Vitamin D, but seeing sunlight which helps to continue to keep your circadian rhythm going strong.
3. Sit in front of a happy lamp/light box while you work at your desk for ideally a half an hour.
4. Try to move your body in the morning as part of your Magical Morning Ritual. It doesn’t have to be 20 minutes of cardio, going to the gym, or lifting weights. You can try gently stretching, jumping up and down on a small trampoline a few times, hula hooping, etc. But if you are going to work out, definitely try to do it in the morning and avoid evening/night time workouts.
5. Consider taking Melatonin supplements to help you sleep at night, they come as low as 1 mg (consult your doctor first).
6. Expose yourself to a lot of light when you first wake up. Open those blinds, eat breakfast by a window, stand in a sunbeam.
7. Invest in fancy blinds OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diodes) that you can set to a timer and will make it look like the sun is rising in your bedroom.
8. Insist on your workspace having access to a window.
9. Keep the same schedule you had the rest of the year and stick to it. Structure is helpful this time of year.
10. Take Cod Liver Oil which helps you take in all the sun’s rays and goodness.
11. Make time to rest and let your body take naps when you need to.
12. Take a trip to a place with a warmer climate this time of year.
13. Eat foods rich with Vitamin D and/or take Vitamin D supplements (examples: salmon, egg yolks, mushrooms, soy milk)
14. Schedule things to do, especially with friends. Self-Care/Me Time is important, but isolating/fully hibernating can make you feel worse over time.
15. Allow yourself to indulge in delicious hot beverages like tea, hot chocolate, hot cider, and coffee.
16. Invest in a very warm winter coat, gloves, hats, scarves, boots, thick socks, etc. so you can be comfortable spending time outside even when it’s cold.
17. Make sure you’re eating nutritious foods every day and avoiding alcohol, even though it may be tempting to make you temporarily warmer.
18. Put a little bit of sunscreen under your nose so you can imagine you’re smelling summer all day long.
19. Find a hobby you can specifically do in the winter months and schedule time to do it a lot. Plus, you’ll look forward to coming back to it all year long.
20. Accept that this is the season you’re currently in, and make a list of reasons why winter is actually a cool season.
21. Come up with a Winter Bucket List (or use mine) so you have things to look forward to checking off.
22. Take time to make your home a beautiful, cozy space since you’ll likely be spending a little more time there than usual.
23. Create yourself a self-care kit, but specifically winter-themed.
24. Wear your favorite colors and prints. Don’t be pressured to wear dark colors because it’s winter and that’s all you see in stores. Color psychology is real!
25. Consider seeing a therapist and or psychiatrist even if you think you’re experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder and could potentially benefit from talk therapy and/or SSRI medications. Remember there are newer options like online therapy to take advantage of!

Photo: Maura Housley