10 Natural Remedies to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Daylight Savings has officially ended.  The days are getting shorter, colder, darker.  It’s funny how this happens every year but we still act like it’s the first time.

Creatures of habit we are.

A common side effect of the time change is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Many people suffer from SAD when Fall/Winter rolls around and the seasons change.  Some of the side effects are:

  • Depression
  • Decreased energy
  • Irritability
  • Disruptive sleep patterns
  • Weight loss/gain
  • More serious side effects can be insomnia, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.  If you experience any of these, please see your doctor.

There are a few things you can do to help with these symptoms, many are inexpensive and easy to add into your daily routine.  Here are 10 natural remedies to treat SAD…

#1 Natural Sun Light

Reduced sunlight can drop seratonin levels in your brain which can trigger depression.  Bundle up and head outside for a walk.  The best time to go is  between noon and 2pm, that is when the sun is at its brightest.  Even 10 minutes can make all the difference. 

When you’re indoors, make sure you open the curtains and blinds to let the natural light in. 


#2 Light Therapy

If you leave for work and it’s dark in the morning, get home and it’s dark in the evening or find it difficult to get natural sunlight in during the day, you may want to purchase a Light Therapy Box.  Just 30 minutes in the morning in front of these lights can enhance mood, energy, and help regulate your circadian rhythm allowing you to sleep better.  Many people notice a difference almost immediately, within a few days.


#3 Aromatherapy

I am a huge fan of aromatherapy and love using our diffuser.  Citrus scents such as lemon, orange or grapefruit are perfect for energizing and lifting your mood.  Scents like lavender or sandalwood are great for calming and best used before bedtime.  Add essential oils to your bath to help relax and soothe.aromatherapy

#4 Exercise

Exercising releases those “feel good” chemicals in your brain such as endorphins and serotonin which can help alleviate seasonal affective disorder.  Walking or running outside would be the best form of exercise because you are tying in #1 as well, but if you live in a cold climate that may not always be possible.  If you are working out indoors, choose the machines that are closest to the windows so you can also get some sunlight and a view (hopefully!)


#5 Dawn Simulator Alarm Clock

I have been hearing more and more about these alarm clocks lately and would love to try one out!  Instead of jolting out of bed to that annoying beeping sound or loud music, Dawn Simulator Alarm Clocks gently wake you using a light which simulates a sunrise so your body wakes gently and naturally. You set the time and a light will gradually get brighter over 20-40 minutes allowing you to wake up more slowly improving your mood and energy level.


Shorter days got you down? Try these 10 natural remedies to treat SAD. Click To Tweet

#6 Vitamin D Supplements

Studies have shown that Vitamin D has been proven to increase mood in people suffering from depression.  Talk to your doctor to see if Vitamin D supplements are right for you.

You can also try adding foods rich in Vitamin D to your diet such as salmon, fish oils and egg yolks.


#7 Stick to a Schedule

I know this is hard for shift workers, but if you can, try to stick to a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time even on the weekends.  Same goes for eating, try stick to regular meal times.  This can help with weight gain that is common during this time.

Alarm Clock

#8 Take a Vacation Down South

Like you need an excuse to head to Mexico, right?  By the time winter rolls around a much needed break is a godsend.  The excitement and anticipation leading up to the trip can help lift your mood and the after effects of a sunny vacation can stay with you for weeks. 


#9 Add More Healthy Fats to your Diet

You know I love my fats!  Foods rich in omega-3s (fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines; nuts; flaxseed; eggs; and walnut or flaxseed oil) have been proven to boost your mood.

Ditch the processed foods, heavy carbs and sugar.  Studies (1, 2, 3) have proven that sugar causes inflammation throughout the body and brain which leads to depression. 

Also, steer clear of artificial sweeteners, they can worsen the symptoms of depression.


#10 Find a New Hobby & Be More Social

Trust me, I know the feeling of wanting to stay inside all winter and “hibernating”, but closing off does not help with the effects of SAD.  A new hobby will get you out of the house and allow you to meet new people. 

A change in the season can mean some of your favourite hobbies are no longer easy to do, such as biking, swimming or hiking.  But nothing is stopping you from taking a walk outside, maybe you could try a new sport like cross-country skiing, downhill skiing/snowboarding or skating.  Contact your local fitness centre or arena and ask if there are any upcoming group activities.  This is a great way to meet new people and learn a fun new sport. 

If the outdoors aren’t your thing, you could always look into your local college/university for any upcoming community education courses. I live in a small town and even our local college offers all kinds of arts & culture courses like painting, learning how to play an instrument, photography and sewing.


I hope these tips help you beat the winter blues.  If you are finding the symptoms affecting your daily life, it’s important to talk to your doctor.  They will be able to assess you and determine if you have SAD or another form of depression.

I’d love to hear what has worked for you!


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