Feeling SAD? Stay Active to Beat the Blues

It’s that time of year when the sun starts to set before dinner and our bodies crave carbohydrates and the comfort of our covers.

An estimated 10 – 20% of the American population struggles with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) each year. SAD is a type of depression that follows the calendar; symptoms begin and end around the same time each year. For most people, late fall – early spring is peak time for SAD and they experience trouble sleeping, lack of energy, little desire to be social or active, change in appetite, and an overtly negative mindset.

The lack of sunlight November through March attributes to a vitamin D deficiency which affects both our bodies and our brains. Whether you struggle with seasonal affective disorder or not, we want you to feel your best this season. Here are some tips for staying active, energized, and beating the winter blues.

Drink water and get plenty of sleep. Before you pour your morning cup of coffee, drink a glass of warm water with lemon. Make sure that you are prioritizing sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, stop watching TV an hour or two before bed, and take all electronics out of your bedroom. 

Eat seasonally and focus on hearty dishes that are full of vegetables, protein, and lean meats. We love this Tuscan Chickpea and Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup! Make a large batch, freeze the extra, and enjoy these cozy dishes throughout the winter.  

It’s hard to muster up the energy to venture outside—much less to the gym—when the roads are icy and a mug of hot chocolate is calling your name. Try these bodyweight exercises for a great workout from the comfort of your own home that requires no extra equipment.

Create a bucket list for the season and focus on active-ities rather than a Netflix marathon. Go for a hike before the snow hides the trail; grab a friend and go ice skating while the holiday lights are in full swing. Join a bowling league or go swing dancing on date night! Staying social is a great way to beat the winter blues.

Move regularly during the daylight. Have a standing meeting with your co-workers or walk to a local coffee shop for an afternoon pick-me-up. Keep your gym bag fully stocked and in the car, ready for a lunch-time cycle class or a quick jog around the indoor track. Even a quick stretch session is better than nothing! 

Exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. Schedule regular trips to the library or start a book club with your friends. Keep a jigsaw puzzle on your coffee table and and complete a daily Sudoku. If you’re going to be stuck inside all winter, you might as well learn something new! 

Take advantage of your time indoors—now is the perfect time to organize your life! Pull a Marie Kondo and spend your winter cleaning up those areas of your life that need a little more TLC. 

If you find yourself struggling to stay afloat this season, know that you are not alone. Depression is real and it affects more people than you might realize. Remember: it’s okay to be selfish about self-care, never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep, and exercise is medicine.