6 Tips For Coping With Seasonal Depression

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For a majority of people in the northern hemisphere, winter is coming or already here. In the warm days of summer, we look back fondly on winter as a time of twinkly lights, decorating trees, giving gifts, and holiday celebrations. But every year we are reminded that the reality of winter is brown-sludge-covered streets, weeks where the sun doesn’t come out, and a constant desire to hide in bed until April.

Getting through the gloomy months of winter is tough for everyone. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to the season. However, even people without SAD can struggle during winter as the weather can greatly affect anyone’s mood.

So if you’ve asked yourself lately why humans don’t hibernate in the winter like bears, here are a few ideas to make the winter season a little bit easier:

1. Get outside!

I know, I know - this is the opposite of what you feel like doing right now. But, doing something fun outside can help you enjoy the season just a little bit more. I love taking my dog out for a quick walk to enjoy the soft silence and pristine beauty of fresh snowfall. Also, there are tons of winter sports to try: skiing, snowboarding, sledding, tubing, tobogganing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and more. 

2. Make yourself a cozy haven

If you can’t stand being outside, then you need a cozy haven to dethaw in after you come in shivering. Some of my essentials are a fuzzy, faux fur blanket, slippers with a rubber bottom, and the biggest sweatshirt I can find. Bonus items include twinkly lights, holiday decorations, popcorn, and lots of hot cocoa, tea, or coffee. 

3. Buy yourself some new winter gear

One of the benefits of winter are all the accessories you get to wear. If you find yourself resenting your mittens or hat - it’s time to treat yourself to some new ones that make you excited to go outside just so you can wear them! I love a slouchy beanie with a puff ball on top and cozy infinity scarves that could double as blankets. 

4. Try a sun lamp

If you haven’t tried a sun lamp, you probably think the idea of plopping yourself in front of a light for an extended period of time sounds pointless. I get it. It does sound silly. But for many people - it works. And you don’t have to just sit there staring into the light. Just have it on while you’re enjoying your morning coffee or reading at night. 
P.S. if you’re super hesitant about making the purchase, look for mental health services in your area that will let you try them out for free. If you’re a college student, most counseling and psychological services on campus will have a room set up just for this reason!

5. Visit a greenhouse

This idea depends on what’s available in your area, but if you can find a botanical garden in your area that’s open year round, they will likely have a greenhouse where they keep it nice and toasty to simulate warmer seasons. Spending some time in the warmth with all of the beautiful plants can totally lift your spirits. 

6. Find a sauna

Lots of gyms have steam rooms or saunas. If you don’t belong to a gym, many of them have day passes you can buy. Gather up a few friends so you can thaw out together or make it a solo adventure and zone out in the heat. 

None of these ideas will suddenly make it 30 degrees warmer, but they can make getting through the season easier. Stay warm!

Written by Hannah Maine