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Don’t be SAD! How to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Been feeling a little down lately? Having a tough time concentrating or focusing? Lethargic and sleepy? Getting snappy at your co-workers / lover / dog?

Well, don’t worry—there’s nothing wrong with you. This phenomenon (that affects over 10 million Americans every year, btw) is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD, or “winter blues”), and it can be a total pain. SAD is a type of depression that changes with the seasons—specifically, the change from, “I think I’ll throw a light sweater on!” to “If I go outside for any reason I might freeze to death!” Unsurprisingly, the search term “seasonal depression” skyrockets from about January through March, for the fairly obvious reason; we all get blue as hell once the holidays are over and the weather has turned to complete misery. 

The symptoms of SAD often manifest as fatigue, hopelessness, and withdrawal, particularly when the weather is cold. There are several factors here, but lack of sunshine is the main one. Lack of sun can disrupt your body’s internal clock, leading to a drop in serotonin (a chemical in your brain that makes you feel happy) and melatonin (a chemical that helps you sleep). Oh, and SAD affects women more than men, so there’s that nice little cherry-on-top. 😵‍💫 

But, don’t despair! We’re here to turn that pretty little frown upside down. Here are some easy ways to avoid seasonal affective disorder this season, so you can go from UGH to AHH! in no time (and just survive the rest of winter, generally).


We know: it’s frigid outside and that’s probably the very last thing you want to do. But, fresh air, sunlight (even if it’s behind the clouds) and tall trees will lower your blood pressure, reduce the stress‐related hormones cortisol and adrenaline, and improve your mood. It’s almost like we were designed to spend time outside…

Layer on the sweatshirts until you’ve created your own human-shaped cocoon and get outside!

Call a friend, recruit your partner, or pop your earbuds in and go at it alone. If you’re feeling the effects of seasonal affective disorder, fresh air and sunlight will do absolute wonders for your mood (it’s #science), so go outside and take a few deep breaths—even if it’s freezing.

Cheer-Up Your Space

Even though you’re probably trapped inside due to the weather (and the utter craziness of the world) that doesn’t mean you have to lean into gloomy dungeon vibes. Make your space so cozy that you can’t imagine spending time anywhere else!

Open your curtains, get rid of anything that might be blocking the sunlight (ahem dead plants), and make yourself a nice little space by the window where you can scroll on IG / work / read / sunbathe.

Splurge on the colorful rug, pillow, candle, or blanket that you’ve been eyeing, or throw a bright new coat of paint on an old piece of furniture. A little color will go a long way, especially in the dead of winter, so don’t be stingy. You’re the queen of your castle… decorate like it! 💃

Sweat it Out

What self-care list would be complete without an homage to the benefits of exercise?

Going to the gym can feel overwhelming when all you feel like doing is burrowing yourself in the comforter and watching Breaking Bad for the tenth time. (We don’t blame you.) But, if you’re feeling the effects of seasonal depression, you’ve GOT to get your body moving.

Don’t think of it like a chore or something you “have” to do; consider exercise as something you “get” to do! Think about the different methods of exercise that you might actually enjoy. Like, do you enjoy biking? How about skiing? Ever tried a yoga class from the comfort of your own living room? The important thing is that you get your heart rate up and a good sweat going.

How much, you ask? Well, according to Karmel Choi, PhD, (lead author of this study) the “magic number” is about 30 minutes per day, or four hours per week.

Start small, and work up to it if you’ve been off the gains train for a while. And, don’t forget to take your CBD for any post-workout soreness. You can thank us later. 💪

Give Yourself a CBD Massage

Whether it’s a case of the Monday blues, the gloomy changing of seasons, or more long-term-ish anxiety, research indicates that a good massage can help with lifting spirits, improving moods, and resetting circadian rhythms—all of which lead to you feeling better!

Drop some CBD into your hands and get to work on the areas of your body that often get neglected; your feet, shoulders, neck, and hands.

If you have a close friend or partner, take turns giving each other a massage, and watch as the serotonin comes flooding in.

Talk to a Friend

During especially gloomy times, you may want to retreat into your solo-SAD cocoon. Although alone time is definitely important, it's also vital that you connect with the people around you who make you feel good.

When you really can't bring yourself to leave your couch, invite a friend or two over for tea and to stare at your phones. If you can gather the energy, try out a few bucket-list items that you wouldn’t normally do if the weather was nice. Sometimes walking around amidst some cool modern art or going to see a bad movie can be just the thing to kick your seasonal depression to the curb.

Feeling SAD? Here’s When to See a Doctor

It’s totally normal to have those days where you just feel very MEH.

It is important to know when to ask for help if you are unable to follow your normal routines, have a history of mental illness (personally or within your family), or are having hopeless or suicidal thoughts.

A professional can accurately diagnose this common condition and will be able to discuss therapy options with you. Sometimes it just helps to talk with a professional. With the right treatment and a few easy (and fun!) lifestyle tweaks, SAD can be a manageable condition.

You should seek help at the nearest emergency room if you have severe seasonal depression or are having suicidal thoughts.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)

Additional Information + Assistance

In addition to the SAD-specific resources listed above, we have compiled a comprehensive list of mental health resources for women here.

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