32 People Weigh in on How to Overcome SAD

Health & Wellness

As previously seen on Wit & Delight

Hello from a November Twin Cities, friends. The sun is setting before 5 p.m. and there’s a definitive, constant chill in the air. By any textbook definition, it’s not winter yet, but by the definition of tangible sensations? Uh, yeah. Yes. The season is upon us. A lot of folks experience Seasonal Affective Disorder this time of year, so we thought it was about time to unearth an essay penned in March 2018 by Liz Welle—one that lists a whole host of things that can help us when we’re experiencing SAD. Find ’em all below.


I know I’m not one to like, phrase things eloquently by any means, but if, gun to my head, someone asked me to describe the Internet on any given day I think I would blurt out: “withering sh*t hole.”

We’ve all seen the studies on the negative effects it can have on our brain, and I tend to agree…most of the time. A bright spot for me is the Instagram followers I have somehow accumulated who are some of the most brilliant, helpful, insightful, kind people I’ve ever “met” (shout-out one time for bomb-ass women on the net!!). Instagram Stories is where I divulge, in all honesty, some of my personal life struggles. I believe social media is most helpful when we’re authentic and honest, and the ROI I get from that (introductions to hundreds of like-minded women) turns my inbox into—what I know is very rare—a helpful chatroom of suggestions, tips, and similar personal anecdotes.

Something I was chatting about the other day was how damn bad my Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is this year. I was like, “Hey! Struggle bus-ridin’ over here! Do any of you have suggestions for how to deal with SAD?” The answers came pouring in, and they were SO. GOOD. And naturally, what’s mine is yours, ESPECIALLY when it comes to tips for getting through life in one piece.

Here are the 32 best responses I received on how to combat SAD:

  • “Yoga! Vitamin D capsules. Coffee at a cafe. Reading more. Journaling.”
  • “Infrared saunas.”
  • “Vitamin D supplement every day, a SAD light alarm clock or light, getting outside first thing in the AM, hot yoga, routine!”
  • “The SAD light!! Every morning.”
  • “Vitamin D pills, a sun lamp and a ton of water. Also, therapy groups dead-ass saved my life like, literally wouldn’t be here without them.”
  • “Vitamin D drops, fresh air, sunlamps, a vacation to Hawaii (wink), infrared saunas definitely help. I go about once a week (in the winter) to this awesome place in St. Paul called Awaken.”
  • “Working out, music and cleaning, cutting out drinking, eating healthy if you can afford it. Getting somewhere hot and sunny, cut out/avoid the sh*tty people In your life. Doing something that is rewarding to you like spa treatments, dinner with your friends—put yourself around humorous people.”
  • “Aggressive scheduling of pleasurable activities. New restaurants, new skincare products, longer showers than environmentalists would ever condone, regular sex or kinky sex. Make a list and do one of the things a day like a ritual!”
  • “Cocoon massage. They exfoliate you from head to toe, cover you in body butter then cocoon you in blankets while you get a scalp massage and a foot reflexology massage. Then they remove the cocoon and give you a 60 min massage.” (Writer’s Note: Why the frick have I gone my whole life without a cocoon massage?!!!)
  • “Fire cupping! Last winter was my first time trying this and the first time I didn’t have SAD. it relaxes and centers me.”
  • “St. John’s Wort. It’s an herbal supplement, available at most grocery stores—my therapist recommended it for depression/anxiety and it truly has been a lifesaver, but it DOES mess with some hormonal birth control.”
  • “Check local colleges/universities for SAD studies. I’ve been in some and received a mood light (they’re expensive!). Also: yoga, Ashwagandha supplements. They have all helped my SAD but also saved me money and that offers some relief too. I have short daylight in D.C. and I try to get up and have a routine even though sunlight doesn’t arrive until like 8.”
  • “My SAD lamp helped me tremendously but I had to be religious about using it for 20 minutes two times a day. I got really into comedy every winter and stayed away from my usual dark TV shows/books/movies and just tried to laugh a ton. Laughing and hot yoga. I also increase my meds every winter and then taper back down in the spring.”
  • “The Daily Energy gummy vitamins from OLLY.”
  • “The lamp really did work for me, as did Vitamin D and yoga. I also try to get up earlier and take a short walk every morning especially on sunny days. I tried a salt tank last year because the winter here in Portland was SO brutal and it was *so* helpful.” (Salt tanks are basically this giant bathtub full of super salty water so you just float! It’s dark and quiet and you spend 90 minutes floating with no pressure on your muscles or joints.”
  • “I used my SAD lamp religiously. I use it while I do my morning kitchen routine so that it was shining in my face for twenty minutes. I also do a lot of yoga and use Epsom + essential oil baths, lots of candles (candlelit dinners are a fun winter tradition), and sauna society sessions.”
  • “One small thing that helps me is putting lavender essential oils in my tub before I shower every morning. It reminds me to take deep breaths in and out which helps me chill.”
  • “If I’m having a particularly bad week, I’ll make a whole pan of brownies (if you know what I mean) and eat them with all of my favorite good shows/movies/music. I’ll pre-prep with a well-stocked fridge and have old and new cookbooks to peruse, maybe set up an art station to paint or vision board or do whatever creative endeavors that feels cathartic and fulfilling in the moment. Do this with the intention to focus on yourself and how it makes you feel and just enjoy it and DON’T FEEL GUILTY.”
  • “Liquid Vitamin D! Sauna, hot tubs, and exercise helps too.”
  • “I spend a ton more time outside. I hate the cold, but actually being in/near nature makes the SAD dissipate. I skate, snowshoe, and ski. I used to live in Portland and it rained SO MUCH and I HATED IT and was so sad. What I discovered was that if I layered up, got all the rain gear on and went out into the woods…I can’t even explain it but I learned to love life and the quiet so much more.”
  • “I allow myself to feel sad, and I try not to beat myself up about it. If I need the evening or a weekend day to just have a day where I lay in bed and be with my thoughts, I take it. Then I try and move on the next day. Meditation, funny movies, and the Target dollar section (weird but you do find some fun things in there).”
  • “Gong baths! They have them when there’s a full moon (because energy). It’s yoga and chanting for the first 30 minutes and then Shavasana for 30-45 minutes while the instructor plays a gong. You just lay there and can feel waves of energy from the gong. It sounds dumb but it’s seriously amazing.”
  • “IV Therapy! It’s an IV of fluids and vitamins. It makes me feel great, and makes my skin look amazing too.”
  • “My mom lives by vitamin B Complex. She takes two a day and swears by natural oils – she’ll put a few drops of frankincense in her face moisturizer.”
  • “I like vitamin D drops instead of capsules because they’re cheaper and absorb more quickly. I like Apex Energetics.”
  • “Exercising (even though it’s GOD AWFUL), plus vitamin D pills, more fresh fruits and vegetables, and getting outside even if it’s only for 10 minutes.”
  • “I’ve tried allllll the stuff but the only thing that worked for me personally is 5mg of Lexapro.”
  • “Saunas and salt lamps—for budget SADders.”
  • “I’m obsessed with the Philips goLITE BLU Energy Light. It’s expensive but worth it. Vitamin D helps but it’s best to start in October. I take it year-round, increasing in October and decreasing in April. Oh, and reducing/eliminating sugar and screen time. I’m amazed at how much it has helped.”
  • “Zoloft.”
  • “My favorite routine is cupping and then the infrared sauna. They warm you up from the inside out and you’ll feel warm and nice all day. Plus you can plug into an aux cord and play whatever music you want.”
  • “Panic journals. I use it during a panic attack. I write down exactly how I’m feeling. My journal has ended up looking like a psychopath’s diary, but basically, you write until the panic has subsided or your handwriting looks more natural. I used to try and not think about the panic when I was having attacks but I guess you’re actually supposed to express those feelings and a panic journal is one way to do it.”

We’ll get there, babies. Hang on. Also, if you have any other suggestions for how to overcome this paralyzing energy-and-happiness-sucking THING, I’m all ears (eyes?). Comment below.

BY Liz Welle - November 23, 2019

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November 27, 2019 9:55 am

These are great tips (and sound like a lovely way to fill an upcoming holiday long-weekend! I miss Liz Welle!

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