It’s November and if you live in Ontario you know what that means – cold, grey days and very long nights. For many, it means waking up in the dark and coming home from work in the dark. The loss of daylight is quite a challenge for someone like me who can struggle with symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, (SAD), a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. I’m a very positive, upbeat person, but I really feel the effects of winter when I don’t get a glimpse of the sun. If you struggle with SAD, you may notice a change in your mood, like feelings of depression or a lack of energy. Maybe you have difficulty concentrating or even experience changes in your sleep, appetite and weight. For me, some or all of these symptoms can occur throughout fall and the winter season. But knowing this has also made me super aware of the importance of caring for myself throughout this season so I don’t lose sight of the things that truly make me feel happy and healthy. If you’re like me and notice you struggle with some of these symptoms too, here are 5 strategies that can help you feel more like your happy, healthy self too!

Get some fresh air. One of the reasons you could be experiencing symptoms of SAD is because you’re just not getting enough oxygen into your lungs. And I get it. Who wants to be outside when it’s cold and possibly raining or snowing? But the thing is – if you’re stuck indoors most of the time, you cold be breathing in stale air which can cause headaches, sinus infections and low energy. Getting more fresh air can sharpen your mind because more oxygen results in greater brain functioning, improving concentration skills and an increase in serotonin, (your happy hormone), consequently making you happier. Getting outside can also help you produce vitamin D from the sun (when it does come out), which is essential for supporting your immune system.

Exercise Daily. Whether you hit the gym, do a home workout or go for a walk, moving your body daily is essential to your overall health. Exercise can aid in relieving stress and anxiety which can contribute to symptoms of SAD. It also releases feel good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin which can not only make you feel better, it can actually help you sleep better too. If you struggle with being physically active, start small and build up gradually. Take a walk at lunch or go with a friend or pet. Take the stairs when you can or do some extra laps at the mall while Christmas shopping. Incorporate some stretches at your desk or even at home while watching TV. Every little bit makes a difference if you keep at it.

Practice Relaxation. Studies have shown that breathing exercises, yoga, meditation or prayer can do wonders for alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. And it doesn’t just have to be a mind-body exercise. Listening to relaxing music, finding a few minutes in a quiet room or enjoying an aromatherapy massage can help you to de-stress and boost your mood as well.

Track your diet and reduce sugar. It’s important to be mindful of your diet because it plays a big part when it comes to your mental health. Your best bet is to stick to fresh, natural and good quality whole foods. Increasing your vegetable intake can have a profound effect in increasing your energy and boosting your mood. Keep track of the foods that help you feel better and take note of which ones make you feel worse. Then, eliminate or reduce the ones that make you feel sluggish or contribute to mood highs and lows. Typically, these foods contain high amounts of refined sugars which are found in simple carbohydrates. Avoid these and you’ll not only feel better, you’ll look better too!

Get Help. If you notice that you suffer from symptoms of SAD and just can’t seem to get any relief, don’t be afraid to talk about it and seek professional help. Know that you are not alone, so don’t isolate yourself. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional who can help guide you in your journey to better mental and emotional health.

About the Author

Bianca Schaefer is a 360 Holistic Health who inspires a global community to take charge of their lives through nourishing their body, mind and spirit with delicious healthy foods, an active lifestyle and a mindset that believes anything is possible! Her mission is to help others realize their greatest potential and use their unique talents to be an inspiration to others. Find out more about Bianca on her personal website,