5 tips for surviving a seasonal affective disorder

by Elizabeth Rago

Feeling “down in the dumps” this time of year is an understatement compared to the depression and disinterest in doing anything I’ve felt since the temperatures dropped and the sun started setting at 6:30 p.m. Getting out of bed has been downright impossible most mornings and up until this particular January, I’ve never felt the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) quite like this year has thrown down.

The clinical suggestions for treating SAD are phototherapy (light therapy), medication, and psychotherapy — however, my dose of those three coping strategies is just not cutting it.

Here are five ways to light a fire under your endorphins and get you out of a seasonal funk:

#1 - Recruit a “text boost” buddy.

You know that friend, the one that’s allowed to text you at all hours of the day and night with no judgment? Get her (or him) and put into action a plan to send one humorous meme and one motivating meme each morning. Simply knowing someone is thinking about you could be enough to put a little smile on your face, and hopefully, ease you out of bed.

#2 - Let the light in.

Manage the illumination in your room and get a handy light timer so in the event you’re feeling especially weary, the timer will kick in and brighten up your room before the sun has risen to do the job for you. I recently spoke with yogi Heather Kellogg who shared what she does in the morning to encourage energy.

“Every morning, the first thing I do is open all of my blinds to get as much light in as I can (especially when I’m working from home alone all day,” says Kellogg.

#3 - Instead of hitting snooze, hit diffuse.

Place a small essential oil diffuser next to your alarm and when you hit snooze, activate the aromatherapy to rouse your senses and hopefully bring you up and out of your warm blankets. Citrus-y oils offer a fresh and rejuvenating scent that hits the olfactory sensors which then sends a message to the brain’s limbic system (emotions and memory) and the neo-cortex (conscious thought, language). If a fruity scent is not your cup of tea, Idaho balsam fur, peppermint, bergamot, and rosemary aromas can also give you an energy boost.

#4 - Get your blood flowing.

Several members in our household lack the early bird gene, so in an attempt to get everyone up and at ’em, I often result to a quick morning mini-massage. We’re hard wired to want touch, plus it’s a wonderful way to communicate with one another — a gentle touch is a nice “I love you” to start your day off right or get you re-motivated to tackle a task mid-day. Don’t have any roommates? Invite a furry cat or dog into your life by way of your local animal shelter. They give the BEST morning hugs, snuggles, and kisses.

#5 - Create a morning playlist.

Focused on bringing healing and kindness to her community, yoga studio owner Kellogg also spoke about her morning routine of cueing up a few energy specific playlists.

“Adding movement is super helpful (to get you going in the morning),” mentioned Kellogg. “ I also do at least three Sun Salutation A to get fresh blood to the brain.”

Sun Salutation A includes eleven fluid movements like mountain pose, forward folds, upward and downward facing dog, and an upward salute which stretches your arms up and elongates the back. A quick internet search will reveal easy and quick Sun Salutation A tutorials, or you can try this practice from Adriene Mishler:

Spotify is an excellent place to collect a mix of tunes depending on your mood. The Modern Domestic Woman playlist features Prince, show tunes, old school Janet Jackson (What Have You Done for Me Lately), En Vogue, Culture Club, and loads of “hell yeah” high-five tracks to get you pumped for your day.

Need more suggestions? Email me at themoderndomesticwoman@gmail.com or visit our welcoming community on Facebook for support.


About the author:

Elizabeth Rago is a mama, wife, and the creator of The Modern Domestic Woman (MDW). Starting with silly beginnings writing about home decor and DIY projects, Elizabeth found MDW to be a happy distraction from her stressful life. After a series of unfortunate events including job loss, a car accident, bankruptcy, and a physical and emotional breakdown, Elizabeth felt compelled to shift the primary focus of MDW from pretty pictures and goofy memes to a space of honest support for the modern woman. Learn more about Elizabeth at MDWcares.com


A version of this article was published in the Kane County Chronicle on January 31, 2019.