Prepping for the Winter Blues: Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Written by: McKayla Magleby



Time to read 2 min

As winter approaches, many of us find ourselves looking forward to cozy fires, hot chocolate, and the holiday season. However, for some, the winter months bring more than just cold weather and festivities. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), often referred to as the "winter blues," can cast a shadow on the joys of winter. Let’s explore what SAD is, its symptoms, and practical strategies to cope with and alleviate its effects.

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that occurs in a seasonal pattern, most commonly during fall and winter. It's thought to be triggered by the reduced exposure to sunlight during these months, leading to disruptions in our circadian rhythms and melatonin production. Here's a deeper look at what you might experience if you have SAD:

Symptoms of SAD


SAD often presents as a pervasive feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in activities you typically enjoy.


You may feel excessively tired, struggle to concentrate, or experience disruptions in your sleep patterns.

Changes in Appetite:

Cravings for high-carb and sweet foods are common, leading to weight gain.

Social Withdrawal:

SAD can make you feel less sociable, leading to isolation from loved ones and social activities.

Difficulty Concentrating:

Many people report having trouble focusing and making decisions.

Coping Strategies for SAD

The good news is that there are numerous strategies and lifestyle changes you can incorporate to manage and alleviate the symptoms of SAD. Here are some practical ways to cope with the winter blues: 

1. Light Therapy

One of the most effective treatments for SAD is light therapy, also known as phototherapy. Special light boxes mimic natural sunlight and help regulate your circadian rhythms. Spend 30 minutes each morning in front of the lightbox to combat symptoms.

A women sitting in front of a therapy light.
2. Mindful Eating

While your cravings for comfort foods are natural, try to maintain a balanced diet. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as these can boost your mood and energy levels. 

A women smiling, eating a salad.
3. Regular Exercise

Physical activity is a powerful tool against depression. Regular exercise, even just a 30-minute daily walk, releases endorphins, which can significantly improve your mood.

A women at the gym with her Freshly Picked bag.
4. Manage Stress

Practice stress-reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. Reducing stress can help manage depressive symptoms. 

A women doing yoga in the mountains in the snow.
5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Consider therapy if your symptoms are severe or don't improve with self-help strategies. CBT can be particularly effective in changing negative thought patterns associated with SAD.

A women sitting across from her therapist, talking.
6. Socialize

Even when you don't feel like it, make an effort to stay connected with friends and family. Socializing can help you combat feelings of isolation.

A group of friends standing around a fire in the snow.
7. Embrace Hygge

Hygge is a Danish concept that celebrates coziness and comfort. Create a warm and inviting home environment with soft blankets, candles, and warm drinks. Surround yourself with things that make you happy. 

Someone sitting wearing cozy socks, a warm drink, a book, and a comfy blanket.
8. Vitamin D Supplements

Some studies suggest that vitamin D supplements may help alleviate the symptoms of SAD. Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation. 

A person holding up a vitamin d supplement in their hand, in front of a window.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a challenging condition, but it's essential to remember that you're not alone in this journey. By implementing these strategies, you can reduce the impact of the winter blues and find ways to embrace the beauty of the season. If you find that your symptoms persist or worsen, consider seeking support from a healthcare professional. With the right combination of treatments and self-care, you can maintain your well-being and thrive throughout the winter months.