Here’s How To Fight SAD This Winter

It might be cold and dreary out, but you don’t have to let it get you down
It might be cold and dreary out, but you don’t have to let it get you down

February is arguably the worst part of notoriously brutal Canadian winters. We’ve already been dealing with subzero temperatures, short days, and grey, cheerless weather for months now so it’s safe to say most of us are ready for spring to just get here already. People who experience SAD (seasonal affective disorder) can often have an even harder time during the winter. They’ll feel some of the symptoms of depression like lethargy, lack of appetite, trouble concentrating, irritability, and loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, but it’s usually only during the coldest months of the year.

Luckily, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and spring will be here before we know it. Until then, there are a few things you can do to fight SAD and make the most of the next few weeks of winter.

Plan a trip
Winter can feel like a cycle of waking up, going to work, coming home to eat dinner, going to bed and repeating until you die. A good way to break up the monotony could be by booking a trip. Whether a sunny all-inclusive, a ski resort, or a backpacking adventure across the pond is your thing, giving yourself something to save for and look forward to is a great way to make it feel like the routine has a purpose.

Resist the desire to hibernate
When you’re feeling sluggish and down, getting out of bed just to take a walk in the morning and make yourself a decent breakfast seems like it’s going to be an obscene amount of effort. As much as you’d probably love to stay in your pyjamas all weekend, most of the time that’s going to leave you feeling even worse. Even if you’re an introvert, you still need to make time to be social. Make plans to meet a friend for coffee or try the new brewery that opened up in your neighbourhood with your brother. And try to resist the urge to cancel at the last minute. Sometimes all you need is a good conversation to get your mind off your own bad mood.

Take care of yourself
A well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise is important all year round, but it’s common for people to stray from their healthy habits in the winter. Fresh fruits and vegetables are harder to come by and running on a treadmill isn’t as appealing as running outside. Add the fact that bulky sweaters can hide any pounds you might put on and sticking to healthy habits in the winter just doesn’t seem like a pressing concern. Unfortunately, letting your physical health slip a little bit is going to have an impact on your mental health as well. Getting some exercise will help improve your mood and give you a purpose on days when you could just as easily sit in front of the TV for hours on end.

Get that Vitamin D
In the winter, overcast days are inevitable. You’re also spending most of the daylight hours cooped up in the office or choosing not to go outside because of the frosty temperatures. That means your Vitamin D levels are going to plummet and it’s well-documented that lack of Vitamin D can cause seasonal affective disorder. To get those levels back up, try popping a Vitamin D tablet every morning, or making a point to eat foods with high levels of Vitamin D like fortified dairy products, egg yolks, and fatty fish like tuna and salmon. You might also want to try out light therapy. SAD light boxes filter out most of the UV light so there’s no danger of eye or skin damage and they can be used therapeutically to boost mood when you just aren’t getting enough natural sunlight exposure.

Experiment with different ways to boost your mood to find what works for you, and remember, there’s no shame in seeing a therapist once in awhile if you need someone unbiased to talk through your feelings with. It can help you put things into perspective and remind you that you have control over how you choose to deal with the ups and downs.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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