How to deal with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

How to deal with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Winter is just one of four seasons, right? A bit darker and colder, that’s all. So why does it feel challenging and dreadful for so many of us? We share some tips for warding off your winter blues and making the most of this slower season.

Winter can signify the start of a melancholic phase for many people. It’s certainly tough to say goodbye to summer, with its long, sunny days and magical beach moments! And as the cold wintery days approach, we might notice changes in our mood, energy levels and appetite.

We tend to be more prone to depressive symptoms, become more introverted, and sleep and / or eat more. This phase has a scientific name, by the way: Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.

Fortunately, there are many ways to fight our winter gloominess. So, let’s get started!

Sleep (but not too much!)

A balanced sleep schedule will help you feel better in the long term. Don’t overdo it though, even if your bed seems more welcoming during the winter months. Keep it regular by sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night. Soon enough, you will see the benefits.


In summer, the good weather and a more active lifestyle mean we tend to easily eat fruits and vegetables. During winter, we crave different foods and may even lack certain vitamins. In particular, make sure that you get enough vitamin D (the “sunshine vitamin”) – a deficiency may lead to symptoms of depression and weakness. Consult your doctor about the best foods or supplements for your body’s needs.


Working out is, without a doubt, the best natural antidepressant there is, whether it’s aerobics, jogging, swimming, or some YouTube Zumba! Exercise can do wonders for your body, your energy and your mood! Plus, with fewer distractions in winter, it is way easier (and much less sweaty) to follow an exercise routine.

Light therapy

If you live in a country where the weather doesn’t offer you much in the way of sunny days, you may want to try a daylight lamp. (N.B. Be sure to consult a doctor first if you’d like to use a special SAD light box. Although these don’t require a prescription, they do need to be used with certain guidelines to be effective.)

Of course, there’s nothing quite like natural daylight! Just 10 minutes of sunshine a day can help your body to produce vitamin D. So next time there’s a sunny break in your day, put your sunglasses on and grab the chance to go out for a quick walk!

Enjoy togetherness

There’s a Greek saying that goes, “When it’s cold, it’s time for two to get together!” Winter provides many opportunities for cosy meet-ups with friends, games next to the fireplace, walks in the snow, long chats over hot chocolate, and movies under soft blankets! Why not arrange a few gatherings with your loved ones to warm up your heart?

Every season is unique

Don’t forget, each season has something different to offer and all give us a variety of experiences (or wouldn’t life be dull?!). Winter is here and brings its special gifts: snow (if you’re lucky!), twinkly lit-up city corners, and cosy hugs! Wonderful!

With thanks to Dimiliana Nikiforou for her contribution to this article.

How do YOU experience winter? Got any tips you’d like to add? We'd love to hear from you – just leave a comment!

Vivian  Chiona


Vivian Chiona

Vivian Chiona is the founder and director of Expat Nest (, which provides emotional support to expats and their families through online counseling services. A bicultural, multilingual expat with family...

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