Health and Well Being: 5 Tips for Overcoming SADness

Sunday, January 15, 2017

If you're feeling a little blue around now, you're not alone.

We, as women, tend to feel guilty if we're not up and running at our optimum levels at all times. Yet about 5% of the U.S. population (mostly women) experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), "a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter." (Wikipedia)

And even if you don't officially have SAD, winter's bitter cold, short days, barren landscape, and lack of sunlight, are enough to make any woman that already has her plate overflowing and her stress levels stretched, want to just crawl into bed and hibernate.

As a matter of fact, if you read 5 Ways to go from Dark to Cozy this Time of Year, a post I published this past November, you'll see some of the ways I cope when we change the clocks in the fall.

But I feel like January is when it really hits. Chanukah and the holidays are over, and we've been in the dark for what feels like long enough already.

So here are 5 scientific tips that may help with the sadness and sludginess we may be feeling:

1. Turn up all those lights. 

"Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, has been linked to seasonal depression. This hormone, which can affect sleep patterns and mood, is produced at increased levels in the dark. Phototherapy or bright light therapy has been shown to suppress the brain’s secretion of melatonin." (

It's pretty simple, if it's dark, our bodies biologically tell us it's time to sleep.  But instead of realizing this little fact, we beat ourselves up for not being able to keep it all together and do a bazillion things like robots without needing recharge. So make sure to get as much sunlight as you can during the day, and turn on your brightest lights to get through the afternoon and early evening.


2. Embrace napping.

Now, I know not everyone has the luxury of crawling into bed at 3 pm, but napping is seriously the most underrated method of surviving the winter. We think we need to have a fever of 103 degrees or be severely depression to actually take a nap, but, "a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance. And, nappers are in good company: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap." (

I've recently embraced napping when I feel I really need it. If I know I'll have a lot going on in the evening, I'll actually schedule a nap into my afternoon. (Think you won't be able to fall asleep? Use an alarm so you don't worry about not getting up in time.)  I've even pulled over on the side of the road or at a rest stop to get a few minutes of shut-eye. And I have a very busy, accomplished friend who taught me about her 9 minute mini-naps, where she'll just go somewhere quiet, set her timer for 9 minutes and close her eyes.

Bottom line? You're not irresponsible, depressed, or lazy if you take a nap. You may actually become more of the opposite.


3. Don't skip the Vitamin D

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. These days, most people are vitamin D deficient, and especially so in the winter. "Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms." (

Besides for popping supplements, a great way to get vitamin D is to eat loads of fish. In Nordic countries the percentage of people who suffer from SAD increases to 10%, with the exception of Iceland. A possible reason for this anomaly is because of the population's high consumption of fish, which is particularly high in vitamin D (not to mention Omega 3 fats which are great for brain function). (Source: "Lack of Seasonal Mood Change in Icelanders." American Journal of Psychiatry, 158(2), p. 328)

4. No out

This is where it gets hard for me. People like to think I'm always exercising, but in the winter, I find it extremely difficult to work out. I love running or biking outdoors. Going to the gym? Not so much. But when I do push myself to get there, I'm always so much happier. Not to mention, once you work out you will feel way less guilty taking that nap!

Workout the body = Endorphins in the brain.  Enough said.

5. Socialize

Good friends are good for your health. Why is it that we as humans tend to feel so alone and isolated in our SADness? I promise you that after getting together with a real friend or two, and listening to their problems, you will know that we are all in this challenge called life together.

We may have different versions of reality, but we are all feeling the same feelings and trying to do the best we can to survive. (Please keep this in mind when following social media. One minute's worth of an insta-story does not represent a full 24 hour day in the life of anyone. You really never know what they are going through in private. Trust me on this.)

Connecting with friends by sharing and empathizing will leave you feeling great, making the struggle so much easier.

Meanwhile, shop from some of my favorite treats to get you through until spring:

Happy, happy, happy rest of the winter!

Until next time,



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