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How to stay mentally healthy through the colder seasons

How to stay mentally healthy through the colder seasons

About 5% of the population in temperate climates suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but the majority don’t even know they have it. The season of holidays and visiting friends and family may get in the way of our self-care routines and mental health checks. Mental health has been a big topic of discussion this year, but I want to focus on Seasonal Affective Disorder for those that want to learn how to control it or maybe for those who haven’t been diagnosed. 

People with this disorder experience several depressive symptoms: mood swings, a change in appetite, little to no motivation to get out of bed, lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating. On top of suffering from SAD, students might battle schoolwork and extracurriculars, leading to a feeling of lack of control over their lives. It’s a myth that people with depression seem miserable all the time, but most times it's the friends and family that seem the most “put together” that are suffering. If you relate to these feelings or are already diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, you might want to understand how temporary fixes, such as watching your favorite holiday movie, differ from long-term fixes, such as seeking help from a therapist. 

Temporary Fixes often only make you feel better at that moment.

We fill our free time with comforting activities, usually surrounded by loved ones, and they often make us feel good at the moment. One of my favorite things to do on a slow, chilly weekend is to make soup from scratch. This creamy squash and sweet potato soup gives you an excuse to have your friends or family come over and warm their souls. 

Love is more visible in the colder months; couples are holding hands glove-to-glove, and friends are forming a human train on the ice-skating rink. It’s important to express love towards anyone important in your life because you never know if someone close to you is silently suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Take them out on a coffee date to a local coffee shop and buy them a pumpkin spice latte.

Long-term fixes could help you become the person you were before. 

Light Therapy

An affordable, at-home remedy to SAD is to use lightbox therapy, which is when a diagnosed individual uses a bright lamp as a “sun” for about 30 minutes to improve their mood during the darker, colder months. This seems like a great way to start and re-energize yourself in those stages of SAD.

Finding a Therapist

Many people are giving therapy a try for the first time this year, but there’s a specific type of therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is grounded around the belief that the way people view events or changes affects the way they function. Going to this type of therapy could help you understand why you perceive the colder seasons from a somber perspective. 

Try making a hearty soup, or try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, because there’s no reason to battle Seasonal Affective Disorder alone. Please reach out and be vulnerable to those you love because you never know who could also be suffering from it. Don’t forget to do your favorite Fall festivities that help you find light and warmth.


Linda Hodge

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Linda Hodge

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