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How To Tell If You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder (And What To Do About It)

by Sarah Yu

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that is related to a specific season, but is most common during the wintertime.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the 4 to 6 people who have SAD, but there are effective treatments, which include medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy.

Exposing yourself to as much positivity and light as possible is important. It has also been proven to cause changes in brain chemicals that are linked to mood.

Even though light therapy is a crucial part of treating SAD, there are also other ways you can manage it for a healthier, happier you!

Here are some practical ways you can keep the negativity to a minimal during the season.

seasonal affective disorder

How To Cope With SAD

1. Surround yourself with positive people.

The easiest way to stay positive is to be surrounded by tons of it! Be around people who can see the silver lining in any bad situation.

Related: 11 Ways To Stay Positive (Even When You’re Around Negative People)

You can still complain and vent sometimes—you’re only human, after all!—but interacting with someone who doesn’t encourage negativity makes a huge difference. Negativity deserves no place in your life.

2. Spend more time outside before the darkness hits.

The amount of exposure you have to light vs. dark can influence your mood.

Being exposed to as much sunlight as possible is a good way to up your happy levels.

This may be more difficult for people who work a 9-5 job or going to school during the day, but this isn’t restricted to weekdays.

To combat seasonal affective disorder, try to wake up early on a weekend and take a walk around the block in your neighborhood; the sun will definitely be out by then. Another thing you can do is to set aside 10-15 minutes out of your day to really take in nature and smile!

Related: 9 Surprising Reasons Why You Should Smile More

3. Listen (and sing along) to happy music or melodies.

We listen to certain types of music with particular lyrics depending on our mood because it can either make us feel empowered or discouraged.

Music is so effective for meditation is because the soothing melodies can calm your soul and give you a peace of mind.

Listen to songs that have upbeat lyrics or even just upbeat melodies (which can also apply to classical music, if you’re not a fan of pop or hip-hop).

4. Keep yourself warm…and busy!

Keeping yourself warm is obviously an absolute must! But if you’re looking to maintain positivity and absorb in the love, it’s important to actively be doing something while staying away from the cold.

Related: 5 Reasons Warm Weather Is Good For Your Health

A good example is is exercise. It may be the last thing you want to do, but exercising raises your body temperature and will warm your body while keeping it healthy.

5. Limit your time reading, listening or watching anything that’s filled with negativity.

Media affects our mental and physical health, in good and bad ways. In the wintertime, if you have SAD, it’s best to limit or to avoid exposing yourself to negative things altogether.

For example, watching the news is fine, but over-watching the news is not, especially if it’s about a crime. Restrict yourself to watching comedies, animated movies, romantic comedies, or anything that isn’t jam-packed with negative words or graphics.

The same can be applied to books, magazines, or any other hobby you may indulge in.

Related: Use These 5 Negative Emotions To Become Happier

6. Be with people who make you laugh and happy.

Since my boyfriend and I are long-distance, we talk every day, whether that’s via text, phone, or Skype. It really changes my mood for the week or for the day, because he is someone I truly feel happy with, even when we’re talking and doing the most mundane things or being silly together.

The best thing you can do is to be with people who make you laugh until you cry, or with loved ones who genuinely make you happy.

The Takeaway

For some, the weather means much more than just the conditions outside—it can mean the conditions inside your heart. But there are ways to fight seasonal affective disorder and prevent it from conquering your life every winter. Get out there, soak up the sun, and surround yourself with good company and positive vibes, every chance you can!


Sarah YuSarah is a 23-year-old native New Yorker who is pursuing a career in sports journalism. When she’s not writing about sports, she’s watching Criminal Minds, writing her own crime-drama based stories or enjoying the peace of quietness either in her room or in the midst of nature. She aims to travel to every state in the country and plans to leave New York and settle down elsewhere.

Photo by jonnyfilmboy

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