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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Finding Joy During the Grey Months

It’s been dark for what seems like forever, and the lack of sunlight is starting to wear on you. As the shorter and colder days linger on, your mood stays in alignment with the season – monotonous, colourless…grey.

You may have felt down, sluggish, or listless in the last few months. But just like the season progresses, you may have also noticed your symptoms moving from mild to severe.

What if you’ve been feeling so down that you now experience sadness almost all day, every day? What if you’ve been so sluggish that it’s caused you to oversleep continually? What if you’re not just feeling listless, but hopeless?

seasonal affective disorder

If you find that you feel particularly low during the winter months, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression related to changes in seasons, and while symptoms usually subside by spring, it’s important to take care of yourself the best you can in the meantime.

Believe it or not, you can find joy during the grey months, and here are a few places to start:

Get Some Sunlight

Even if it’s snowing or cloudy outside, the sun can still provide enough vitamin D in 20 minutes that you need to boost your serotonin levels!

If you can’t get outside, try to sit by a window when you can. Sunlight will help boost your mood and give you more energy throughout the day.

Exercise Daily

The benefits of exercise are many, but it’s especially helpful for mood disorders like SAD. Not only will it help you to feel better physically, but it can also give you a much-needed mental boost.

woman stretching trying to relieve symptoms of SAD

Some days it will feel impossible to get up and moving, but you can always start with some slow, gentle stretching and see where it takes you. Not every day has to be fast-paced or high-intensity!

Connect with Friends and Family

Spend time with the people who make you happy, whether that’s going out for coffee or talking on the phone. Sometimes just being around loved ones is enough to make us feel better.

Bring On the Green Things!

Add a few plants to your home or office to help bring some life into your space and improve your mood.

Start with something simple, like an air plant if you aren’t sure that plants are for you. Maybe you welcome more joy and creativity to the process by building your own terrarium! Anyone can do it, but you can always look around for local plant shops or workshops for guidance and supplies.

Allow Yourself to do The Things That Winter is For

Eat your favourite warm foods, read the book that’s been collecting dust on your bedside table, or watch that show you’ve wanted to see. Do whatever makes you happy and feel good – bonus mood points if it makes you laugh!

Try Light Therapy

Today, many devices emit light that mimics sunlight and helps with mild SAD symptoms. Some are small enough to sit right on your desk or side table throughout the day, though you may only need them for about 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning!

SAD therapy lamp

Remember… this too shall pass.

SAD is a real thing, and it’s okay to admit that you’re struggling. With a little effort, you can find joy during the grey months. If you’ve tried a few of these things and are still feeling hopeless or down, it may be time to speak to a professional. You don’t have to suffer alone – make an appointment with your doctor, therapist, or counsellor today.

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Georgia Strait Women’s Clinic is a top-rated drug rehab and alcohol treatment program for women in British Columbia. We offer treatment for substance use, mental health, PTSD, and trauma. If you’re struggling with mental health and/or addiction, visit our website or call us today to learn more about our programs and how we can support you.