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Feeling SAD? Banish the Winter Blues

The sun sets behind the mountains overlooking a mountain lake.

The Great Outdoors.

Its sublime beauty is enough to replenish the soul – unless you feel SAD, a recurrent type of depression brought on by the darker winter months. If you’re tired, depressed, gaining weight, or having trouble sleeping for days on end, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Shorter days and longer nights mean less sunlight and sleep problems. Your circadian rhythm may get out of whack. Over time, inadequate sleep drains your life energy. Too much or too little can impact your performance, productivity, mood, and memory.

Fortunately, SAD goes away as the days grow long again with spring. In the meantime, here’s how to spot if you suffer from SAD and simple ways to overcome it.

Do You Have Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Depression or dark thoughts
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Oversleeping or insomnia
  • Craving sweets or starchy foods
  • Losing interest in favorite activities
  • Difficulty with decisions
Natural Remedies to Restore Your Spirit

It’s critical to reconnect with nature in winter and enjoy the beneficial effects of the sun – like essential vitamin D. When the first snowflakes fall and the kaleidoscope of color is long gone from the trees, you can still get outside and enjoy the calm you feel from the sights and sounds of nature.

The remedies below require no prescription – just simple cures to live better and liberate yourself from the blues.

Sunshine Therapy

Nothing is as effective as the healing power of the sun – and SAD is the only kind of depression you can treat with light. Twenty minutes a day of bright, afternoon sun will make you feel better throughout the winter gloom. If you can’t get outdoors, let the sun in! Open the blinds, curtains, and bask in the light.

Follow the Ducks 

Booking a trip to a sunny locale can do wonders for keeping the blues at bay while scratching your itch for adventure. A gorgeous climate, a walk on the beach, and bathing in glorious sunshine nourish you as nothing else can. Ducks head south in the winter. Why not you?

Just Say No Way

Holiday gatherings can be festive and exciting or stressful and overwhelming. Give yourself the liberty to decline an invitation if you know your mental health is at risk. It’s okay to skip the party, curl up with an old book and a bowl of ice cream on New Year’s Eve. Your dog will be glad you did.

Banish the Scale

We’re all about staying active and breaking a sweat – especially for mental well-being. But obsessing about weight gain isn’t healthy. Get rid of the scale (who needs the guilt?) and focus on eating whole foods and drinking more water. If you can’t get outside, do yoga, dance, or lift weights indoors. Any movement is better than none for a happy mood.

Bedroom Basics

Your bedroom is your sanctuary, an oasis from the world. Imagine how much better you would feel with enough sleep. Better mood. Better memory. Better performance. It’s usually a matter of getting back to basics: sound, light, and temperature. Drown out your partner’s snoring with earplugs. Use black-out curtains to shut out the light. Maintain a regular sleep schedule. It really is that simple.

Run For Your Life

Running is a mental activity with a big pay-off – it dramatically reduces depression. We’re not talking about the euphoria you feel from a ‘runner’s high’ but the long-term, positive effects of consistent cardiovascular exercise: better moods, focus, and sleep.

Whether you've got SAD, feel a little blue, or are just having a stressful day, getting outside, getting active, and soaking in some sun can elevate your mood and brighten your outlook.

Coping with SAD can be serious business. If symptoms worsen and you find yourself struggling to go to work or feeling hopeless, contact a medical professional. They will be able to evaluate your situation and get you back on track with the right treatment.