Feeling Blue? 15 Ways To Fight Winter Depression

The winter blues are real. If you feel sluggish or a bit depressed in the winter, it’s actually due to something called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that only strikes during a certain time of year. Up to 20% of people may experience SAD symptoms. Most commonly, people who experience SAD feel depressed during the winter months. Colder temperatures and shorter days means less time outdoors, which can greatly affect one’s mood. But there are several ways to deal with SAD and feel better this winter. Here are 15 ways to fight those winter blues.

woman looking depressed in the shadows

There are many ways to manage seasonal depression. | Kieferpix/iStock/Getty Images

Wake up earlier

Senior woman sleeping on bed in bedroom at home

Wake up with the sun. | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

During the winter, the sun rises and sets much earlier than other seasons. One way to battle SAD is to spend more time in the daylight, and that starts with waking up earlier. Try setting the alarm for the same time the sun rises. It may seem difficult to wake up that early, but letting more sunlight into your day will improve your mood and make it worth waking up a bit earlier. If you go to sleep after midnight and wake up at noon on weekends, try setting the alarm for 10 a.m. rather than sunrise. This way, you’ll get a few more hours into your day without sacrificing too much sleep.

Next: Let that sunlight in. 

Keep the curtains open

Woman looks out the window in a hotel room

Let the sunlight in. | mind_and_i/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Make sure to let the sunlight in during the day. In addition to waking up earlier, the best way to soak up the sun is to actually see it. Keep your curtains open while you get ready in the morning. If possible, sit near a window at work. Taking those extra steps to get more sunlight into your day will help you tackle any feelings of depression you might experience during the colder months.

Next: Get moving. 

Go for a morning walk


A morning stroll will boost your mood. | Yobro10/iStock/GettyImages

Get up and get out. Taking a morning walk will help you get some fresh air and expose your body to sunlight early in the day. Early morning exposure will help improve the day’s overall mood and make it easier to enjoy yourself. Plus, exercise is good for your overall health. Even if you can’t wake up and take a morning walk, head to the gym later in the day. Any form of workout will release feel-good endorphins.

Next: You are what you eat. 

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

Cutting board vegetables

Put healthy foods into your body. | xmocb/iStock/Getty Images

You are what you eat, so if you eat better, you’ll feel better. Adding plenty of fruits and vegetables to your diet will help you feel more alert and ready to take on the day. Sometimes, the foods you eat can make you feel bloated and sluggish, which doesn’t help your mood. But if you load up on fruits and veggies, which are full of vitamins and other nutrients, you’ll feel more alert and ready to take on the day.

Next: Don’t do this too much. 

Avoid drinking too much

A line of different colored alcoholic cocktails

Alcohol is a depressant. | Tsuguliev/Getty Images

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can leave you feeling down. And if you’re dealing with SAD, you won’t want to give your mind any other reason to feel bad. Having a glass of red wine per day can be good for you, but avoid binge drinking. Too much alcohol may numb a problem in the short term, but it won’t help your body or mind in the long run.

Next: It might be worth it to purchase this. 

Buy a light therapy lamp


Light therapy lamps imitate sunlight. | evgenyatamanenko/gettyimages

If you live in an area where the sun is very scarce in the winter, such as up north, it may be worth it to invest in a light therapy lamp. These lamps emit light at a frequency that is the same as the sun, so it gives your body the illusion of sunlight. It can be great for people who need an extra mood burst during days when the sun isn’t out or for those who live in mostly dark places during the winter.

Next: Don’t forget to socialize. 

Meet up with friends

Friends toast glasses of champagne on a yacht

Don’t forget to socialize with friends. | dolgachov/iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Socializing with friends is a great way to improve your mood. You may not have the energy to go out to dinner or spend time with old friends, but nurturing those relationships is important to feeling happier overall. Remind yourself these people care about you, and remember they’re there as an escape from how you may be feeling. They’ll be perfectly okay with you discussing any problems with them, too. After all, that’s what friends are for.

Next: Don’t spend all day in one place. 

Get outside during your lunch break

lunch outside

It may be too cold to eat lunch outside, but try to find time to leave the office during the day. | Romrodinka/iStock/Getty Images

Don’t spend all day in the office. If you have an hour for lunch, take it. Get outside, even if it’s just going for a drive with the windows cracked — a great alternative if it’s too cold to take a walk. Soaking up a few rays will help offset spending an entire day in the office. After all, if you work late, you may go the whole day without seeing the sun. No sun at all definitely isn’t good for your mental health, so take any kind of break you can.

Next: Some people say these help greatly. 

Try using essential oils

herbal relaxing product

Aromatherapy might help. | iStock.com/Anna-Ok

Aromatherapy might be a good addition to soaking up some rays. It has mixed reviews as far as how well it works, but some people swear that certain oils help their SAD or year-round depression. Try relaxing with lavender or grapefruit oil. Both are believed to help ease depression and anxiety symptoms. Jasmine and basil may help, too.

Next: Do this at work. 

Open the window at work

man opens window

Crack a window if you can. | ronstik/Getty Images

On a day that isn’t frigidly cold, crack the window open a bit. The fresh air will be good for you, and you might get some rays of sunshine to hit you directly. Window glass blocks almost all UV light rays, so in order to soak up that Vitamin D, you’ll want to open that window a bit if possible. You only need about 10 minutes of sunlight for your body to absorb a healthy amount of vitamin D, so cracking a window for a few minutes will do the trick.

Next: Talking to a professional may help. 

Talk to a therapist

man in therapy

Talking to a therapist may help. | jacoblund/Getty Images

Talking to someone can make a world of a difference. Find a therapist who is covered by your health insurance and meet with them as little or as often as you need to. It will be good to have someone you’re not very close with there to help you through your problems and get your mental health back in order. Sometimes, those closest to us don’t offer the same advice that a professional would. If you can afford it (most therapists have some sort of copay requirement), it may be worth looking into.

Next: Try to get away. 

Plan a vacation

Senior couple embracing on beach, rear view

Taking a few days in warmer weather will help. | Digital Vision/Getty Images

Getting out of the cold weather during the winter might be exactly what you need to refresh your mental health. Try saving up money throughout the year to book a budget-friendly vacation somewhere warm, such as the Caribbean. Websites often offer deals that include hotel and airfare, which can help cut the costs. Even if it’s only for three or four days, it may work wonders.

Next: Let out how you feel. 

Write down your thoughts

Middle aged woman's hands holding black pen

Remind yourself what you’re thankful for but also write down your feelings and thoughts. | natalie_board/iStock/Getty Images

Writing down what you think and how you feel can help get those thoughts out of your head. Spend a few minutes each night writing a journal about your day. Once you put the thoughts on paper, it gives them room to escape your mind. You can reflect on why you feel a certain way and think of new tactics to help offset those feelings. Writing everything down is a good way to self reflect.

Next: These may help.

Take vitamins

pills and multivitamins

Some people find that multivitamins help. | Valentina_G/iStock/Getty Images

Some people strongly believe in taking vitamins to give the body nutrients that it might not get through food. If you’re feeling depressed, getting an extra boost of vitamin B or vitamin D through a supplement may help. Some people swear by them while others do not, but it’s worth trying to see if it helps your mood improve. You can also take vitamins that reduce anxiety and stress, such as Vitamin B stress complex, which may help.

Next: Consider this, too. 

Consider medication

medication on a table

Medication is another option. | DedMityay/iStock/Getty Images

If you’ve tried a few different methods and can’t find a natural remedy that works, it may be worth it to consider medication. Talk to your doctor about taking antidepressants, although it may benefit you to try other options first. Your doctor will be able to prescribe you something that should help you manage depression symptoms. If it is seasonal, though, it may be difficult to adjust to only taking medication at certain times of the year.

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