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Monday, January 12, 2015

30 Ways to Think Outside the SAD Box this Winter | Part One

Thank you so much for all the positive feedback about this series!

I'm excited to share my tips and experiences, and also to learn from yours! 

{Here's the intro post if you missed it}

Today I'm going to give you the first ten tips and tricks I've learned to battle seasonal depression. They are in no particular order...

1. Spend 15 minutes looking at photos from an event that made you really happy. In her book The Happiness Project {affiliate link here, I highly recommend} Gretchen Rubin writes "Studies show that recalling happy times helps boost happiness in the present. When people reminisce, they focus on positive memories, with the result that recalling the past amplifies the positive and minimizes the negative." I like to browse through our vacation albums. I get equal boosts from looking at all the cool places we've been while living in Europe and also all the good times we've had going back to the States to visit family.

2. Take a brisk walk around your neighborhood and look for the beauty in Winter. It seriously doesn't have to be a long walk, especially if it's freezing outside. Just follow the German saying that "there's no bad weather, only bad clothing" and get yourself out there! Studies show that even on cloudy days, your brain still registers that you're outside and this can boost your serotonin levels. Fresh air also lifts your spirits. And if you're freezing, then you'll walk fast and if you stay out long enough you can totally count it as exercise! (see #6)

3. Dance to loud music for 10 minutes. Dudes I'm a terrible dancer. But we're talking about the comfort of your home. No one has to know. Except your kids... who usually think it's just the coolest thing ever to jump around like crazy monkeys with Mommy. It gets our heart rate up and it makes us smile. Being silly is always better than being SAD ;-)

4. Find a friend who loves snail mail and agree to send each other postcards or pretty letters, especially throughout the winter months. Buy lovely stationery. Decorate it with stamps or stickers. Brightening someone's day will brighten yours, and receiving something in your mailbox besides junk and bills will be a huge boost for you!

5. Take a 15 minute power nap. If you've never considered yourself in need of a power nap, you should reconsider. I'm a huge believer in the power of a short afternoon nap (heck I also love long, lazy afternoon naps, too, but I save those for the weekends when the girls are in a snuggly mood!) I just read this great post about power napping. Shake yourself out of that groggy, tired, unproductive feeling by giving your brain and body a nice little rest!

6. Exercise at least a little bit every single day. I know I know I know. We KNOW that this one is huge. We KNOW why. We KNOW how much better we feel when we exercise. But alas, when I'm feeling blah, I am so much more likely to stay in my sweatpants all day rather than busting out my yoga mat. I'm getting more excited about my yoga journey, so it's been a pretty good Winter for exercise, but I still wouldn't say I hit that target of 5 times a week.

7. Make your home life sparkle. I've noticed that many of the Germans leave their Christmas lights up well into January. I have a pretty paper Christmas star lamp that I leave up all year round cause I love it so much. If Christmas decorations make you happy, leave them up till March! Who's gonna stop you!

8. Buy and regularly use a portable therapy light. When I saw a psychologist on base about SAD, his first recommendation was this therapy light by Philips. {here's my affiliate link } The price was a bit daunting, but it was worth every penny. I was skeptical at first about the effectiveness of these things but I'd had enough people mention them to me that I finally had to give one a try. Also, the doctor was so in love with it that he had it with him right there in the office and demonstrated all the features for me. You can use it as an alarm, program it to varying degrees of brightness, and change the session lengths to meet your needs. The blue light tricks your brain into thinking it's a bright sunny day outside... increasing the amount of serotonin your body makes, boosting your mood and energy levels, and helping you regulate your sleep. I don't care if it's 100% placebo effect, I noticed a difference within a week of first using it two years ago. The fact that it's wireless means I can use it anywhere without having to worry about an outlet. I sometimes cook with it on the counter. I've done yoga with it on the floor in front of my mat. I've used it while reading on the couch. And I'm currently using it right this second on my computer desk as I type. I highly highly recommend you get one to use in the mornings and in the afternoons during the winter. It really really helps!

9. Schedule a Skype date with a faraway friend or family member who always lifts your spirits. Connecting with an old friend always gets me in a great mood, in part because of all the laughter and catching up, and in part because it reminds me of all the good times we had. And I always have a skip in my step after talking to my sisters for awhile. They are such inspiring souls... with funny stories and great energy to share. Reconnect with loved ones!

10. Create a funny Pinterest board and spend 10 minutes chuckling when you feel down. I have created this board "When you just need to laugh" that you can follow to get yours started. Laughing regularly is a legit way to boost your mood for free with zero side effects!

If these tips gave you some good ideas to get out of your SAD slump, please share on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter!

And be sure to come back tomorrow for the next ten tips!


  1. SAD is one of the best acronyms for a disorder ever. Also, are you putting this series on that other blog you are part of?

    1. Agreed! And yes, I'm working with the Milso Bloggers to get together something for them so that more people who move to this area will get the information.

  2. I love all of these tips! There IS definitely something beautiful in each day, find it! :) Alaskan 's love their Christmas lights too! I thought it was strange that people got them out so early and left them up so long...but I have to say, mine just came down yesterday! Most of my street still has lights and even trees up still! Hey, if it's going to be dark....let's add some sparkle! :)

    1. Interesting! When I was growing up I feel like we always just took our Christmas decorations down in the week between Christmas and New Years. I wonder if it's just like you said, that those who live more in the dark tend to leave up the cheerful decor more often! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Feb 1 and my white lights are still up in the kitchen and bathroom. So are the starched crocheted snowflakes hanging in the window and the candy cane candles on the shelf. They make me happy :)

    1. Exactly! I say every little happiness boost counts!