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Seven ways to combat the winter blues

The winter blues, also known as seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder that affects people when the shorter winter days disrupt our internal body clock. During the season existing mood disorders can worsen, while some people experience seasonal patterns of atypical symptoms, like an increase in sleep, appetite and weight.  

Most people can continue on with their normal routines without noticing major changes, but they aren’t functioning at their best, feeling a lack of energy and focus and are generally in a grumpy mood. Here are some things you can to do to ease the seasonal slump:

Be social

When you’re feeling low it can be hard to get up and get out. Make an effort to be social; your family and friends are a great source of support and can help distract you from those SAD feelings.

Physical activity

Exercise is always recommended to help fight off stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms. If weather permits, get your body moving outside to take in the fresh air and natural sunlight.

Dawn stimulation

Dawn stimulation is a technique that involves timing lights in the bedroom to come on gradually, mimicking a springtime sunrise. The idea is that people are able to sleep through the dawn and wake up easily at the simulated sunrise, which provides you with more energy.

Vitamin D

The body creates Vitamin D when it’s exposed to the sun and during the winter season, we don’t get to see much of our bright friend. Upping your Vitamin D intake may boost those levels to help combat the short, dark days of the season.


Melatonin is one of the chemicals that helps regulate a person's sleep-wake cycles, energy, and mood. Shorter days and longer hours of darkness is the perfect recipe for the body to produce it in greater quantities. This increased production can cause a person to feel sleepy and lethargic. Melatonin is available over the counter, but discuss with your doctor before taking it.


If you already suffer from a mood disorder it’s very important to check in with your health care professionals before winter kicks in. For people struggling to cope with symptoms, visiting regularly with a counselor or therapist is the best way to help recognize signs and come up with a coping strategy.

Light therapy

Light boxes or phototherapy boxes are made to mimic outdoor light. This type of light is believed to cause a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD. Consult with your doctor about light box options.

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