I spent most of my youth in rainy Oregon. When I moved away it was to even gloomier England. Throughout my childhood I was known as grumpy, bratty, moody… i.e. a “difficult kid.”  I’ve done a lot of work on myself since then, arriving finally at a place of happiness, health and ease.

One of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself was to move to a sunnier locale. I was 20 when I transferred colleges and ended up in sunny Arizona. Although the drama of the early 20s continued, I was able to see that with enough sunshine I was not an inherently gloomy young woman, but rather susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that corresponds with the changing of the seasons, usually provoking symptoms to start in late fall or early winter.

Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping or oversleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight, craving carbs
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

Because I know how real SAD can be in my own body, I’m including a list of 10 ways to deal with this type of depression. (This list came almost entirely from my Health Coaching Curriculum.) Please share this with anyone who may benefit, and have a happy, healthy winter!

10 Tips to Beat The Winter Blues:

Vitamin D3. It’s both a vitamin and a hormone – because of its affects on hormones in the body, it’s thought to affect mood by improving your sense of well-being. For SAD, 1000-5000 IU can be effective. Check with your doctor first – Vitamin D levels can be checked by a simple blood test.

Sunlamps. SAD is a cyclic form of depression caused by changes in the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that regulates biochemical processes in the body.  When the levels of light change in the fall and winter, in some people, this cycle can be disrupted. Levels of melatonin and serotonin drop in the winter, and can cause lethargy and weight gain. Light therapy treats the cause of SAD, lack of light, without any side effects. 

Rest. Don’t fight it. Rest, hibernate, go to bed early, binge on movies, say no to too many activities/making other people happy instead of yourself.

Warm foods. Get out that crock pot for yummy soups.

Get Out. Go outside to get sun and fresh air (ice skating, walks, skiing, sledding, throwing snow balls). Especially effective at mid-day when the sun is strongest.

Get a Massage. Human touch can help raise your happy hormones, too. 

Lighten Up. See comedy shows. Take an improv class. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Humor triggers the release of endorphins. Laughing with others is even more powerful than laughing alone

Movement. Do something every day that gets you sweaty. Hire a trainer, shovel snow, find a dance class, have sex!

Look good. Invest in stylish Winter clothes so you don’t feel dumpy. Wear vibrant colors and fitted clothes. Make sure your boots are both practical and nice looking.

Get away. Put a sunny vacation on the calendar as something to look forward to.