How I Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD, affects 10 million Americans per year, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m one of them. SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, and if you’re like me, the symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months – possibly due to the fact that there’s less sunlight in these months. While doing some research for this post, I learned some interesting things about SAD – did you know that it’s more common in women than it is in men? (Which might explain why it affects me but not my husband!) It’s also more common the further north you go – it’s SEVEN times more common in Washington state than in Florida! Some symptoms of SAD include a heavy feeling in the arms or legs, a drop in energy level, fatigue, a tendency to oversleep, difficulty concentrating, a change in appetite, weight gain, irritability and an avoidance of social situations. I could definitely check at least three or four off the list.

I first noticed feeling slightly depressed my first winter after I had graduated from college, and since then it seems to get worse every year. To me, it’s EXTREMELY frustrating. Especially because the rational part of my brain argues, “WHY are you sad?! Why are you anxious? You have a husband that cares about you, three pets that love you, a roof over your head and a job that you’re passionate about. What the heck is wrong with you!” and on and on. The anxiety comes out of nowhere, can be debilitating and it’s often something very small that sets it off. Some mornings, the only thing that gets me through the day is the thought of being back in my bed that night.

In years past, I felt like I really let SAD take over. But not this year! I’m determined to fight it, and here’s how I’ve been doing it.

Get outside once a day

Did you know that your body doesn’t absorb vitamin D when you’re inside? Even if it’s sunny outside and you’re next to a big window, most glass windows block UVB rays – the rays that your body needs to produce vitamin D. That’s why it’s essential that you get outside, even if it’s just for a short time every day. I try to take Winnie on a walk at least once per day. It doesn’t have to be a long one, even 20 minutes of being outside in the fresh air makes a difference. It doesn’t matter how cold it gets, how gloomy it looks outside, or even if I have to bundle up layer after layer, just that little bit of sunlight makes a difference. If it’s a warmer day, even better. The other day it was 60 degrees outside so I took my yoga mat out on the back patio and did yoga in the sunlight! It made me feel amazing, from inside out!

Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are great all times of year, but I really love using them in the winter – and they’ve been scientifically proven to boost mood. I really like the scent “Cheer Up Buttercup” by NOW Essential Oils. It has a blend of bergamot, orange, lime, grapefruit and lemon oils, but one sniff of the combination is enough to make me smile. It’s so weird to describe, it’s just a happy scent. Lavender is also great for calming and is used to reduce stress, improve concentration, alleviate insomnia and calm agitation. Try putting 5 to 10 droplets into your bath tub at night or rubbing 2 to 3 drops into your palms and taking a deep breath!

Clean up your Diet (and Exercise!)

Diet and exercise are really beneficial to me in the winter. With diet, I notice that when I’m eating really clean, I have less anxious thoughts. But as soon as I chow down on some pizza or a slice of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory (ahem, me last weekend), it triggers my body to start producing anxious thoughts. It’s the weirdest thing, but until I started eating so clean, I had no idea that it made such a big difference in my mental state. I am eating mainly plant-based right now, but even if you aren’t vegetarian, you can incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet (or try out my green smoothie recipe that I shared last week!). Fruits and vegetables are sooo beneficial to us, and 90% of Americans aren’t getting the recommended amount each day! On a day-to-day basis, studies have shown that the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the happier, calmer and more energetic you may feel that day – and this positivity can spill over into the next day. I try to fit in fruits and veggies whenever possible, the more the merrier. I sneak spinach or kale into my smoothies, berries on top of my oatmeal, broccoli into our pasta dishes, so on and so forth. Fruits and veggies are FILLED with vitamins and antioxidants that your body craves, and are not only good for your hair and skin but for healthy brain function as well.

You guys *might* not want to hear this, but in addition to meat, I’ve also been cutting out alcohol and coffee this winter. My husband and I do like to order a glass of wine (he prefers beer) if we’re out to eat or on date night, but we both limit drinking to the weekends. I noticed that even on nights when I have just two glasses of wine watching my favorite show at night, I wake up feeling more depressed the next day. Is that even possible, I wondered? How could a few glasses of wine, that had me feeling so relaxed at the time, make such a big impact on my mental state the next day? It’s a pretty obvious answer, but one that I overlooked time and time again: alcohol is a depressant. Although you may feel an initial “boost” the night before, the next day your levels of serotonin and dopamine go down, which may lead to feeling anxious, down or depressed.

As for coffee, this one was sooo tough for me because you guys know that I’m a little obsessed with coffee. I absolutely love everything about coffee: the aroma, the taste, the fun flavored syrups. However, when I’m feeling anxious, coffee can make it a thousand times worse. It’s like it primes my body and sets me up for having anxiety attacks. If my heart rate is already slightly elevated, then one small stressor could really set it off. During the summer, I don’t notice that coffee affects me as much (and I’ll probably go back to drinking it in the spring). However, if you’ve been feeling anxious or depressed, then it’s definitely worth a shot to try to cut it out. I’ve been sticking to tea instead – in the morning I like green tea and in the afternoons I like non-caffeinated ones such as chamomile and lavender, peppermint or ginger (with a little bit of lemon and honey!).

Take a Vacation – or at least plan one

It’s been proven that taking a vacation during winter to warmer climates can help people who have SAD. For myself, I find that it’s not necessarily the actual trip that helps my mood, but rather the preparation for the trip. I find planning trips to be so much fun, especially if you’re planning a trip somewhere warm! I love researching hotels and restaurants, looking at clothing ideas online and ordering new clothes for the trip. If I know I’m going to be in a bathing suit, that thought also helps me get motivated to work out and eat healthy in preparation. I swear, sometimes preparing for the trip is actually more beneficial than the trip itself! No worries if you can’t afford to jet off to Greece, even planning a road trip somewhere (like to visit or friend, or to a nearby beach or lake) is enough to look forward to. I seriously put all of my mental energy into planning trips and it makes me so much happier just to have something to look forward to! I plan out EVERYTHING in advance: what books I’m going to read while I’m there, what I’m going to wear, what snacks I want to bring, and I even begin testing beauty products in advance. If you don’t have a trip on the books, maybe it’s time to plan one!

Be Proactive

If I let myself, it’s SO tempting to stay in bed all day in the winter. I’m serious. I’ll bring my computer into bed with me and stay there all day until Chris gets home from work. I seriously have to FIGHT it. So I fill my schedule with things throughout the week that force me to get up and out of my house. I go ahead and book my pure barre classes for the week, I schedule dinners with friends, a trip to Charlotte to see my parents, that dentist appointment I’ve been putting off, I’ll even buy tickets to a movie showing ahead of time. I don’t even give myself the option to stay in bed. Keeping busy really does help my sanity and keep me going in the winter!

I’d love to hear all the ways you guys are fighting SAD – or if you even struggle with it at all! I’d love for this to be a safe space to talk about anxiety and encourage each other. I love you girls!

xoxox

Leave a Comment

85 Comments

  1. You are so honest and I could imagine that this is also for many people in Europe and other continents relevant. Thanks a lot for your tips. They help for sure.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    http://www.dressedwithsoul.com

    1.23.19Reply
  2. Such a great post Cait! I hope you do more real life type posts like this one this year. 🙂 I haven’t been dealing with this too badly this year- but last winter when I lived/worked in Vermont I DEFINITELY had this (as well as general situational depression). Each day last winter felt like a whole year, it was awful!

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

    1.23.19Reply
  3. Ashley

    I learned about SAD in my psychology class, but never truly realized how many people it affects. The more you talk about how it affects you, the more I realize SAD affects me as well. I’m always more depressed and have the hardest time getting out of bed. My anxiety is always higher (college might play into that too), but I never really understood why. I’ll definitely have to look more into SAD and try some of your remedies.

    I absolutely love that you shared this post. It can definitely inspire many of us who are dealing with the same thing!

    xoxo
    Ashley
    https://www.blessedinlilly.com

    1.23.19Reply
  4. I have been cutting alcohol completely this month and boy do I see a difference with my attitude, anxiety and productivity!!!

    1.23.19Reply
  5. Caitlin, I can not thank you enough for opening up, especially recently about your battle with depression and anxiety. I also suffer, especially with anxiety and some mornings it is so hard to fight it and get myself out of the house and go to work and I spend most days feeling frustrated and not seeing an end in sight. Both depression and anxiety can feel so lonely and you feel like you’re the only one so I really appreciate you using your platform to really show that so many people are affected. Like you said, it’s hard when you think wow I have all these blessings so why am I upset? I love your tips and plan to incorporate them into my routine. I agree that when I’m eating right and just taking care of myself and doing things for me, my mental state is so much better. Plus the preparation for a trip is my absolute favorite part as well. Thank you again for your honesty!

    http://www.livelaughlinda.com

    1.23.19Reply
  6. colleen burgess

    Thank you for the honesty and recommendations. I struggle with it as well. I moved to Texas and thought I might finally break the cycle but I felt it settle in last weekend so you recommendations are very timely. Good luck to you!

    1.23.19Reply
  7. I recognize what you describe. I have found out that taking extra vitamine D during those months helps as well. Studies show that most people in northern Europe are vitamine D deficient.

    1.23.19Reply
    • Jennifer

      You should have your vitamin D levels tested. Mine were very low and once I started taking a pharmaceutical grade supplement (recommended by my physician), I felt tons better. Go Heels!

      1.23.19Reply
  8. Natali

    To get enough of pure fresh air and also to eat good and nourishing foods are main keys to trying your best at staying as healthy as possible.

    https://lartoffashion.com/visit-croatia-hotel-esplanade/

    1.23.19Reply
  9. Nadine

    Thank you for sharing this – so imprtant to talk about such things. Need to try it with the oil. I thing morning rituals / evening rituals are super important and I absolutely agree on the clean eating. It‘s huge!! What a difference for body and your mind.

    1.23.19Reply
  10. Love this post! I can relate 💕

    1.23.19Reply
  11. Ally Van Iten

    I have this too, Caitlin! These are such good ideas and a lot of them I haven’t thought or heard of. Thanks for taking time to write this!
    (I don’t know if you remember me, but my maiden name was Ally Holm and I loved being around you when you came to some Campus Outreach meetings with Megan Metz in college. I love following your blog and how real you are. Instagram can seem fake and perfect, but I LOVE the honesty and warmth that comes from your posts. You are being a light to many!) — Ally Van Iten

    1.23.19Reply
    • Hey Ally, of course I remember you!!! Thank you so much for your comment! Would love to catch up if you’re ever in Winston!

      1.27.19Reply
  12. This is a really great post and your writing is beautiful! I suffer from anxiety that was brought on after my baby was born and never completely left. Many tips you suggest so did my doctor. Taking vitamins and getting outside daily, face in the sun, is a big one that helps test one I often don’t do.

    1.23.19Reply
  13. Completely agree with all of these tips! I too found that coffee increased my anxiety and have stopped drinking it! Also trying to plan a vacation to look forward to soon!

    Olga
    http://www.littlethingsolga.com

    1.23.19Reply
  14. Marilyn

    I know you love to read thrillers but that type of reading raises cortisol which contributes to anxiety a lot as do those types of movies etc, anything suspense driven. Why not try a couple weeks without?
    Further, I live in Michigan. I have a light box. You don’t have to look into it but rather it can be just to your right at upper torso level and about one foot away so that the light hits your eyes while you read your morning email, blogs, online newspapers for 20 minutes. It makes a BIG difference

    1.23.19Reply
  15. Of course I have heard of SAD, but fortunately I have not experienced it myself. I think it is really brave and inspirational of you to go forward and talk about your struggle, all while giving tips to overcome it and encouraging others to share their worries as well – keep up the good work love!
    Xx Janine
    https://walkinmysneaks.blogspot.com/

    1.23.19Reply
  16. Thanks for sharing such an important post Cait! SAD is such a difficult thing to deal with in the dead of winter!

    I hope you have a great Wednesday,
    Michael
    https://www.mileinmyglasses.com

    1.23.19Reply
  17. I loved this post! Thank you for writing about this – it’s something I think I’m currently struggling with after reading this, so I’ll definitely know how to fight it thanks to you! Keep up the realness Caitlin! This is awesome 🙂 also, where do you get your oils from? Any recommendations on good lavender oils?

    1.23.19Reply
  18. I love that you are bringing up this super important topic! Seasonal affective disorder is definitely real! I suffer from it as well and it started when we moved to Minnesota for a few years and couldn’t get outside much. We have friends who even bought the light that you sit in front of that helps. You are so awesome for discussing it. I too use essential oils to fight it and LOVE THEM! Right now I am blasting Citrus Fresh in my office which is similar to the one you reccommend. Keep spreading the word!

    XOXO-
    Jillian Block
    @thefamilyactionplan

    1.23.19Reply
  19. Laura Leigh

    Really great post Caitlin and wonderful tips! All of this rainy, cold weather we’ve had in Charlotte has definitely been bringing my mood down and also making me less productive. Need to add some essential oils to the mix and plan a vacation!

    xo Laura Leigh
    Louella Reese

    1.23.19Reply
  20. Kate

    I’ve found a light box to be amazingly helpful during this time of the year. Put it by your computer and use if for 20 minutes while you check your messages each morning. It’s super simple but it makes a huge difference 😊

    1.23.19Reply
  21. I struggle severely with SAD. This morning I woke up and felt like I would give ANYTHING to just hibernate until April. Mine normally sets in during January, so it’s right on time. But I feel like no matter how much I expect it the feeling always takes me by surprise.

    I live a relatively healthy lifestyle: i’m already following a healthy diet, exercising 4-5 days a week, and practicing a self-care night once a week with a bath, face masks, and a good book. I even drink only on weekends, and that’s only if it’s a social event! Yet SAD comes in and knocks me on my butt, hard.

    Because of how much I’ve already done to improve my life and how SAD still snuck its way in, I’m trying to brainstorm new things I can try to keep myself occupied and satisfied. I do have a trip planned, and I’m considering picking up a new hobby (who knows, maybe I’ll get my blog started back up?).

    I loved reading about how SAD affects you and what you’re doing, and I’m probably going to buy that essential oil and try your green smoothie. That’ll be two pick-me-ups I can try!

    1.23.19Reply
  22. I absolutely love that you shared about this. I haven’t actually experienced SAD but I do struggle with generalized anxiety disorder and I know exercise helps so much with that. It just always boosts my mood and helps me to stay more focused throughout the day.

    1.23.19Reply
  23. Tracey

    My thoughts this morning were, “Please let up, just please.” I came to your page like I do most mornings for some inspiration and once again you lift me up. I had no ambition to continue with my goals and wrote as much in my journal. Not to get political please, but I work for the Federal Government and this January has been more challenging than most. The next entry in my journal will reiterate my goals and incorporate these inspirational lift me ups! Thank you much!

    1.23.19Reply
  24. Shena Black

    I swear I have the SAME problem with SAD. I honestly never knew there was a legitimate name for it until I read this blog post.

    I also find that during the winter months I need to stay extra active in order to feel good. I also struggle with anxiety on the daily, so eating right, staying active, and getting enough sleep are ALL things that help me.

    1.23.19Reply
  25. Amy

    My husband and I have been doing “sober January” in preparation for a warm weather trip to Hawaii (on Jan 31st – so…technically it’s January minus one day because I want my pina colada when we get there :)). But I complete agree with you – preparing for a trip has been motivating for both eating clean and exercising and gives us something to look forward to. And cutting out alcohol has helped so much with my mental health and feeling like I can handle stressful situations in work and in life with more clarity and positivity. We haven’t cut out coffee, if anything we’ve been drinking more since we aren’t drinking alcohol, but decaf has been amazing for when I want coffee but don’t want to be up all night or feeling jittery! Thanks for your post about this – I think it will help a lot of people!

    1.23.19Reply
  26. Julie Price

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I suffer from SAD & Anxiety as well. I recently moved to Florida and have noticed such an improvement in how I feel. Keep up what you’re doing….all such Great options. Ps….I absolutely love your IG!

    1.23.19Reply
  27. Jessie

    I swear I could have written parts of your post. Anxiety and SAD are awful things and no one really understands unless they’ve been there…

    I purchased the Bellicon rebounder to do some trampoline exercises at home and this has been life-changing. It’s fun and cleans the lymphatic system. I put my tunes on and jump away….

    1.23.19Reply
  28. You are so brave and strong for sharing this! Living in Maine (yesterday’s wind chill was -20 degrees) I see family and friends suffering from SAD. I try to keep myself healthy and busy to combat those dark and chilly days!

    1.23.19Reply
  29. Such a thorough post! I’ve heard of this before but never learned so much about it until now. I live on the Gulf Coast so we have plenty of sunshine and warm (ok, hot and humid) weather. However, it’s the heat and humidity that makes me want to stay indoors constantly! I read somewhere once that exposing yourself to the MORNING sunlight is very beneficial in melatonin production which helps us sleep and distinguish night from day. So, I really try to step out in the morning sun, even if only for a few minutes. I own a boutique and one of our bestselling items is our essential oil diffuser bracelet set. You can add 1-2 drops of your favorite essential oil and enjoy that peaceful feeling throughout the day. Plus, they’re super cute! (Oh, and I’m def ordering that NOW oil you mentioned—like now, lol)! I have learned so much and appreciate your hard work and content so much that I’d love to send you one of our bracelets! Let me know where to send (info@modestreflections.com) Thanks for sharing this! BTW, my husband and I have BOTH been enjoying your green smoothie recipe all week! This morning we had our 4th one and it was delish!

    1.23.19Reply
  30. Pam

    I live in Washington and have multiple family members and friends who struggle with this! We have such cold, dreary and rainy winters that it makes it even harder to get out of the slump. So glad you have found some ways to combat. Have you ever thought of taking a vitamin D supplement? Quite a few people I know have been told by their Dr to take one and it can be so helpful!

    1.23.19Reply
  31. Janet Oloyede

    I have been soooo looking forward to this post & it was worth the wait! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with SAD. It’s really encouraging to read. For me, I’ve been into working out more & definitely eating more whole foods (less processed). I’ve noticed a difference in my moods & my energy levels seem to rise! I also want try essential oils as well. Can you buy the NOW brand at Whole Foods?

    1.23.19Reply
  32. I definitely deal with this. After Christmas this year, I was in a huge slump, and I think it’s due to SAD. It took me a while to emerge from it and regain some of my energy and motivation. Thanks for sharing this post and these tips. By the way, you and Winnie look adorable in these pics!

    1.23.19Reply
  33. Such a great and honest post, Caitlin! I don’t think I have experienced SAD before, but I do struggle with anxiety. It’s hard because some days I’m fine and other days it just pops up suddenly. I think the same as you too. WHY am I feeling so anxious? There should be no reason and yet here I am panicking.

    What has helped me is exercise, eating clean (no fried foods) and taking my favorite vitamins, especially vitamin D. I work in an office so I never get to see the sun during the winter, except on weekends. The vitamin D I take is SO helpful. I notice right away when I run out and am waiting for my next subscription box to come in. I call it my happy pill, ha! Thanks so much for sharing. I hope you can share more recipes soon too! xo

    She Sweats Diamonds

    1.23.19Reply
  34. Ginger

    I too was diagnosed with SAD about 15 years ago. I was just thinking last night how I have this internal tug of war between wanting to cuddle with my Havanese while drinking coffee and binge watching A Million Little Things versus going to my job as a nurse in pediatrics- which I really enjoy. My SAD makes me want to avoid social situations, but then leaves me feeling lonely and irrelevant. Just crazy! I am an avid exerciser, and that definitely makes me feel better and gets me out of the house. Thank you for sharing so openly. Good to know others struggle too, even though we are so blessed.

    1.23.19Reply
  35. stacy

    Love all the health and wellness posts…keep them coming! I really loved the one you did on sleep and natural ways to help relax!

    1.23.19Reply
  36. Yelena

    Thanks for sharing your story and being so candid and honest with us. I struggle with SAD living in Canada….. I bought a special SAD light that I use for 15 – 20 min every morning to get me through the darker months of December and January where the sun rises after 9:00 and sets around 4:00p.m. The light tricks my brain that it isn’t a hard winter!

    I love the “Cheer up buttercup” essential oil; a few drops onto my pillow before I go to sleep helps too! I also let myself eat more carbs: pasta and grains to get that extra serotonin feel good hormone. I agree with you about staying physically active and taking 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily

    1.23.19Reply
  37. Thank you so much for this post and for addressing such an important topic! So many helpful tips and a good reminder that there always things you can do to fight SAD.

    💕

    1.23.19Reply
  38. Kayla

    I bought the happy light from Amazon!

    1.23.19Reply
    • Kathy

      I also bought one (well, 2 – one for home and one for my classroom) and notice a huge difference in my overall mood. It was a great investment!

      1.27.19Reply
  39. Diana

    I live in Charlotte area and this year has been the worst with rain and cold dark nights. It appears to rain every weekend. I feel like that really affects my mood and triggers my anxiety. As a teacher and mom I have to be out in the weather all the time. It’s making me want to move for real. Thank you for sharing your experiences, many of us can relate!

    1.23.19Reply
  40. Heather

    Wow what a great post. The past two weeks have certainly been a struggle. Thanks for the tips! God bless!

    1.23.19Reply
  41. Emily E. Riekers

    I have been diagnosed with MDD, but it gets way worse in the winter. I can totally relate to everything that you struggle with.
    As a sufferer of MDD/SAD for a long duration of time, I can attest that the methods that are listed do help.
    Being proactive and having a plan for when you feel the symptoms lurking is key. Know what works and what doesn’t. Eating healthy, exercise and getting outside are also crucial for me to combat MDD/SAD, personally.
    But, know that it is okay to rest your mind & body, because sometimes that is the only thing you can do. Great post!

    1.24.19Reply
  42. Danielle Espinoza

    I really love this post! Thank you so much for sharing. I personally do not struggle with SAD, but a few people very close to me do and this really gave me some insight on what they are going through. I live in Michigan and the winter just got really harsh up here, I’m talking -4 degrees below zero 😭. I’ve been following you for a few years now and I have loved seeing you grow into the person you are today by you being vulnerable on your blog. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing this! I really appreciate it a ton 💕

    1.24.19Reply
  43. Anna

    I want you to know that YOU are like a cure for anxiety, reading your blog makes any day feel lighter and you give me inspiration to do my best and be the happiest version of myself. So thank you for that! My tip for fighting anxiety is to put on some good music, music that makes your brain think youre happy for the moment. I like to listen to music I liked as a kid (back to the 90’s), a song that makes me think of my last vacation or just some nice and girl-empowering hit on the radio! Wishing you a good day, love your blog!

    Anna
    Sweden, Europe

    1.24.19Reply
  44. Belinda

    Thanks for these honest words!
    I also suffer from SAD, and I highly recommand taking vitamin D! Our body needs the sun to produce vitamin D, so in fall and winter many people suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. This vitamin is so important for our mood and to feelenergetic.
    My doctor prescribed it and I really feel better every year when I take it(we tested the vitamin D level before with a blood test).

    Greetings from Cologne, Germany

    1.24.19Reply
  45. Alejandra

    Is it weird that I feel like this during the SUMMER? I know it’s kind of weird and it’s less common but it happens, I tend to feel depressed and anxious during summer days, and winter days make me SO happy. What do you think?

    1.24.19Reply
  46. Paola Burke

    Thank you for sharing it. I moved to the USA 10 years ago and I struggle with the winter here. Living most of my life in a tropical country (Brazil) did not prepare me for not having sunshine at least 6 days a week.
    I can totally relate to your post, anxiety and irritability took the best of me and a few weeks ago I quit my job at the heat the moment. I regretted and tried to reverse it but it was too late… I felt awful, I did like the company, my coworkers, my paycheck but I have to focus on why I wnated to leave… I need to take care of my mental health, this anxiety that is taking over my body to bring the best of me back. I saw you last month at PF Changs in Charlotte with your family. You were so kind to take a picture with us. Thank you for being so approachable and honest with your readers. Take care.

    1.24.19Reply
  47. Elizabeth

    Oh WOW!!! Its, so interesting that you post about this. Just Monday, my husband was explaining to me that he gets depressed during the fall and winter months. We live in Georgia and its been raining for what seems like months and he told me that he feels even more depressed than normal because the sun hasn’t been out. We’ve been married for 21 years and I am just now hearing this, but he says he has had this problem since he was a kid. It is just getting worse as he gets older. This is definitely a real thing. Thanks for posting about it.

    1.24.19Reply
  48. Mandy

    These are great tips, Caitlin! I am a real Spring and Summer person so I can get down in the Winter when the days are shorter. Getting outside even though it’s cold and dressing to feel good about myself all help, along with planning fun date nights in. My friends and I also just did a girls day out, it was freezing and rainy but a ton of fun – no one minded the weather! XOXO

    1.24.19Reply
  49. Linette Ortiz

    Really love this ❤️. I am having serious winter blues; I live in Pennsylvania so you can imagine how bad is the winter here. Thank you so much for sharing this; it help me a lot. I will follow every tip except cutting my coffee is the only thing that keep me going 😬.

    1.24.19Reply
  50. Lindsay

    Cod liver oil pills have changed my life! I’m so much better in the winter when I’m taking them. Helps with my depression, anxiety and weirdly enough my tooth sensitivity. Thank you for writing about this because most people don’t believe it’s a thing!

    1.24.19Reply
  51. Thank you SO much for writing this Caitlin! I was diagnosed with SAD about 5 years ago, and every winter I learn so much more about the ways this depression can sneak up on me. While reading this post, I saw so much of myself in it, and I even found a few realizations that I hadn’t thought about before.

    It’s crazy because with SAD, you actually are capable of staying in bed ALL DAY. Sometimes when I do that I don’t even realize it’s a depressive habit, I just think I’m “treating myself”.

    One more tip I would add on to this list is ROUTINE! Being freelance myself, I have to force myself to get on a set routine everyday so make sure I meet all my obligations and don’t give in to the temptation to sit on the couch all day. This involves making sure I have at least one errand out of the house per day, daily meditation, and getting up and going to bed at the same time.

    Thank you again Caitlin!

    1.24.19Reply
  52. Lauren

    This is SOOO relevant to so many people (including myself) and so important to discuss mental health. Thank you so much for sharing all of your information and tips!

    1.24.19Reply
  53. Dipali

    So glad you wrote this bc this stuff is so real! Same boat! Great hubby! Great Job! Love my pets and family! But just unhappy!

    1.24.19Reply
  54. I love your post, so many helpful tips, I find that eating cleaner helps in addition to my lemon ginger tea with real lemon slice daily, I bought a happy light off amazon, helps my energy level! My 19year old daughter went back to school and she wants one in her dorm room. I have 2, one at my desk at work, it’s a flat, travel sized version of the original one I have at home. works wonders, I promise. I’m going to look into the essential oils, seems like your combo of walking your dogs and just making an effort to get up and out the house, works well, good luck & and again thank you for your post!! xoxo mona

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  55. You look really great. Thanks.

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  56. Tricia Miller

    This is so timely! I live in Kansas and the sun has only shown about one day in the past week- so everyone is feeling down. It has been really cold- below freezing for most of the week (and lows in the teens and even single digits) and we have had a lot of snow so we have not been venturing out much other than work. I work outside the home so I do have to get out most days, but I work from home one day a week.

    I have been taking Vitamin D supplements because I had my blood checked a few years ago and I was really low- hello no sun in the winter. I know a co-worker got a light that is supposed to help- it is a therapeutic lamp that he uses first thing in the morning and has it right next to his computer- he swears it makes him wake up and feel more perky- just don’t use it too late in the day or it can keep you up at night. I also started working out- I know you already do this, but I have noticed it has given me more energy. I rarely drink alcohol- I just don’t feel good after it and don’t like beer or wine (I think it is the fermentation as I also don’t like Kombucha tea). I don’t drink much caffeine to start with- I can’t have it after lunchtime or I can’t sleep. So I started drinking some in the mornings- I love the green matcha latte frap from Starbucks. Speaking of Kombucha tea maybe you could try that- it is supposed to be really good for you has lots of probiotics and antioxidants. I also have a standing desk at work and notice I’m not as tired on days I stand most of the day- my trainer said it makes sense because my muscles are engaged and it wakes up my whole body. Maybe if you can do your computer work standing it will keep you more alert and more awake.

    One thing I think people could do instead of a vacation is find a new place in their hometown. My husband and I do one new thing a month. We try to have a new activity and usually a new place to eat near it. We have lots of fun things in Kansas City and the cities near it like an aquarium, the zoo (not so great for winter though), exhibits at Union Station, museums, concerts, and home tours- the Symphony has an old mansion they help someone redo every year and they have it furnished so it is a different house in a different neighborhood every year. We find a new place to visit and a new place to eat so we have that to look forward to. We have a list and when we learn of something new we add it to the list then pick something for each month a bit in advance. Sometimes we might only try a new restaurant, but it still gets us out and experiencing our city. And it is something fun to look forward to. I recently had co-workers comment that we are always doing fun things and often stuff they have never heard of until I do it. They think I’m really cool to find all this stuff and often want to do it after I have and ask for information on it.

    It is definitely a struggle to get out of bed most days lately- it is cold and dark, and one of my cats sleeps snuggled with me so it is hard to leave that! I’ve been using lavender sometimes to fall asleep, so I’ll try to use an oil like lemon or cinnamon first thing in the morning while I’m getting ready to perk me up. Thanks for your ideas!

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  57. One of my favorite posts Caitlin and I love you putting yourself out there to talk about this since it affects so many people. For me I’m not 100% sure if it’s SAD or just what they term ‘The Winter Blues’ but I find unless I’m naturally a LOT happier in the Summer and my anxiety is worse in the Winter. I’ve noticed the same thing (any season) about drinking and how it affects my anxiety level later (it’s a two day reaction for me).

    Meditating for 5 minutes every morning with the Headspace app and telling myself I’m going to choose joy, no matter what the day brings, has helped me. Thanks again for sharing!

    Terra
    Fifteen Minutes to Flawless

    1.24.19Reply
  58. These are great tips! I suffer with this too, it sucks!

    http://www.thegirlswhobrunch.com
    http://www.johnandsuki.com

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  59. Love your honesty and you have some wonderful recommendations to help! Thank you so much!

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  60. I’ve struggled with depression for years now, and going to therapy has helped me SO, so much. I highly recommend it! Mine isn’t necessarily seasonal, but I had the same questions, like asking myself why I even felt sad, etc. <3

    Blondie in the City

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  61. Ally

    Eating grains sends my anxiety (and irritability) levels through the roof. Even so called healthy grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, teff, rice, corn, etc. The book “The Grain Brain” was a true eye opener into why anxiety is so prevalent. I have found that my moods are stabilized when I avoid all grains and sugar. Challenging….but worth it for a better quality life. 😉

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  62. Thank you for talking about this! I love seeing bloggers bring more attention to something that affects so many of us.

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  63. Zoie

    This post is so helpful! It’s nice to know other people are going through the same thing. I cut out caffeine entirely a few years ago due to my anxiety at all times if the year. Vitamin D supplements help and acupuncture also helps.

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  64. Katie

    If you ever want to branch out from tea in the morning, beets are very energizing! Juicing them can make your throat feel scratchy, but this powder is so good: Primo Beets Nutrition Supplement https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07818RDPQ/

    1.26.19Reply
  65. sparky

    Thanks so much for this post, Cait! I vaguely recall you discussing lightboxes—was trying to find the post, but couldn’t find it. Have you tried them? I recently bought one, but it only seems to help when I actually can sit in front of the light….so less helpful on those days when I’m on the go…

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  66. Jessica W

    I’ve been following you forever but I have to say this has been one of the best posts you have ever done. This post is really well written and is really relatable! I appreciate how open and honest you are with your readers. I definitely go through SAD too and reading this made me feel a little better and less alone. Thanks Caitlin.

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  67. Stresserella

    I am 61 years old and I have suffered with SAD my entire life, but had not realized it until just a few years ago. I find that using a sun lamp has been helpful. Even just a twenty minute session on the computer in front of the lamp is a game changer! I have always had an overwhelming feeling of “doom” starting in September (as a kid I’d blame it on school) and going all the way until school let out in the late spring the following year! I finally found a doctor who diagnosed me with SAD, and believe me, until you do, you’re gonna flounder in your own sea of stress and depression. Good luck!

    1.27.19Reply
  68. Thanks for sharing this, I know this will help a lot of people. I never thought SAD was real until last year when I spent my first very cold and dark winter in Wisconsin (and I grew up in Winston-Salem and lived in Chapel Hill / Charlotte for 15 years) – so you can see how big of a change that is. I was so sad and depressed by March and April of last year because it was still cold and dark and snowing and my body wasn’t used to that. This year I try to sit in front of a bright light box specifically for people with SAD in the mornings, take Vitamin D every day and get outside the house and make plans to stay busy. Or sit in a Sunbeam at work when possible. I also have a LOT of plants in my house. I think all the green and life helps a lot. I’m with you on planning trips I booked one to Vietnam and Cambodia for this March and it’s going to be hot and sunny, so knowing I have that to look forward to is awesome. I run yoga retreats to places like Tulum, Europe and now Asia so travel is a big help. I also try to remind myself that it’s variety that makes life interesting so it’s nice to have snow and winter because it makes you appreciate summer that much more (especially in Wisconsin)!!!

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  69. Love your blog. What I have found to work for this and anxiety is adding Vitamin D to you daily habit. I now pop them throughout the day in the winter. Complete transformation.
    All the best,
    Fontaine

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  70. Ashleigh

    Please tell me if those are faux flowers on your nightstand and if they are where you got them 🙂 love!

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  71. Carrie-Ann

    Thank you for this.

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  72. I used to live in Scotland (now in London) and was raised in Florida, so SAD hit me HARD. Whilst in grad school in Scotland, we received lamps that we were told to sit in front of for at least 15 mins a day with out eyes closed. If I knew that EO blend existed, I would have had that with me too! So glad you shared these tips because it is a real struggle!

    chevrons & éclairs

    1.28.19Reply
  73. I’ve used a light therapy lamp these last two winters – I believe it’s been working. Thanks for sharing.

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  74. Jessica

    I love you for sharing this! For being open amd vulnerable on your platform in a way that you don’t have to be, but so thankful that you chose to be! I have really struggled with feelings of depression when winter approaches and just thought I was being silly. I never realized this could be my issue all along! I started seeing a therapist this year (best decision EVER) and discovered I have high functioning anxiety. I definitely think I’m affected by SAD to some extent as well and I so appreciate you sharing this! I too struggle at times with getting out of bed and just DOING stuff. I get so down that I act so lame and then feel worse and the cycle continues. It’s amazing to me that someone as motivated as you also struggles with these issues. I also like the suggestions you gave and definitely do some of those things to help! Excited to try some others as well! Please let us know your thoughts on the light therapy kit you purchased! I’m definitely interested!

    1.30.19Reply
  75. Thank you for sharing your personal experience with SAD. Your tips and advice are both excellent tools to fight the symptoms of SAD. I had no idea over 10 million people suffer from it, too. Essential oils can be great! I personally use them when I fly because I tend to feel anxious while up in the air. I love smelling lavender because it instantly calms me down.

    Amanda || Affordable by Amanda

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  76. Ana Castle

    Aahhhh! Thank you so much for sharing this! As soon as I saw you got yourself a light therapy box, I went ahead and bought one for myself. And it has made the biggest difference along with incorporating all the tips you recommended. I grew up in a tropical weather and since I moved to the US 7 years ago I have had to deal with SAD symptoms. Thanks again for this great info!
    -Ana Castle

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  77. I didn’t know SAD was a thing, but it makes sense! The weather doesn’t fluctuate much in SF throughout the year but the shorter days make me feel anxious. It feels like there’s not enough time in the day to get things done and I hate running in the dark in the mornings. I also miss warmer days and nights and the changing of the seasons you get on the east coast. It made it feel like time is moving forward, but in SF, it often feels like you’re at a standstill – imagine 6 years of that! Then again we don’t get polar vortexes, though we do get fires… I guess we all want what we can’t have, lol. I’ll definitely look into SAD more and explore your tips for overcoming it. Thank you!

    xo,
    Ajda

    https://www.leapintolovely.com

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  78. Andrea

    Hi Caitlin! I’ve been following you on instagram for some time now, but I’m new to your blog! It’s lovely! This is a great post (thx for sharing). I’d add to the list dark chocolate (cacao) it helps to boost serotonin levels! 🙏🏽💕

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  79. This is such a cute post!

    2.7.19Reply