Finding Joy in the Winter | A Blog About Seasonal Affective Disorder

Feeling low this winter? Feeling low EVERY winter?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing. 4-6% of people have winter depression and another 10-20% have mild Seasonal Affective Disorder. Living in a state that typically has a very long winter season, it is important to think about mental health in relation to the seasons. This year our winter was certainly more mild at the beginning and took a while to get started but, it is definitely here now in a big way.

There are several things that you can do if you notice a shift in mood seasonally. Most of these tips are useful if/when you are noticing mood changes that are mild but if symptoms are more severe, then of course talking with a doctor about your symptoms is always a good idea.

Tips/things that can be helpful are:

– Light Box

– Massage

– Laughing

– Exercise

– Sunshine/Fresh Air

A light box is a light that is used indoors for a certain period of time each day and it gives off light that mimics the sun. Massage can increase your brain and body’s serotonin levels to help keep your mood even. Laughing is so important because that can, again, improve your mood. Exercise is good for us all of the time, but can be especially helpful to boost serotonin levels and keep them elevated for hours after a workout. Spending time outdoors, despite the weather, is a good way to be in the sunshine and breathing the fresh air. There are studies that show that walking outside in nature, especially with others, can be a great way to combat SAD.

Another great way to keep yourself healthy mentally during the winter is to find a Winter activity that you enjoy. Skiing, snowshoeing, sledding – whatever it is, if you find something you truly enjoy during the winter months it can have a very positive impact on your mood. Imagine waking up to a day with the snow falling down inch after inch and feeling nothing but excitement because you know that means that you will be able to do _________ and have so much fun doing. Oh what a different feeling that would be. So get out there Minnesotans (or transplants that are here for a winter season) and find something to love about these long winter months!


Written by Nicole Uzendoski, MSW, LICSW