Tips to Help Combat Seasonal Depression

The lack of sunshine and the bitter cold that comes with winter can be hard on the mind. Days are short, making us miss the warm embrace of the sunlight even more. Fighting the urge to stay in a warm bed rather than braving the cold can leave us feeling stuck and unmotivated. The cold weather’s effect on the mind can be due to seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It can be easy to fall into seasonal depression, however, there are ways to help alleviate the symptoms and help you feel like yourself again. 

Here are 6 tips to help you combat seasonal depression this winter:

1. Talk to a Doctor

Seasonal affective disorder, SAD, is a form of depression that has its own diagnosis and treatment options that are separate from other forms of depression. Consulting a doctor regarding your symptoms is the best first step in combating seasonal depression. The EOU Student Health & Counseling Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Fridays. To schedule an appointment call 541-962-3523.

2. Light Therapy

Light therapy includes using an artificial light box to imitate the sun. This method is common in helping ease the SAD symptoms of sleeping problems and low mood. While most effective when used in the morning, the best way to use your light box is by placing it at your desk or workspace at a distance of 16 to 24 inches for 20-30 minutes depending on the box directions. Although you can purchase a light box online, it is recommended you meet with a doctor to create a specified light therapy treatment plan.

3. Natural Sunlight

Busy schedules and limited hours of daylight can make it hard to find time for outdoor activities, however, there are alternatives. Exposure to natural light can be an excellent way of combating seasonal depression. For example, take a short walk or sit next to a well-lit window whenever possible. This allows you to soak up vitamin D and avoid the negative effects dim lighting has on SAD symptoms. 

4. Exercising

The cold winter air has a way of making people want to stay in bed and skip their morning workouts. To fend off seasonal depression we must fight the lure of a warm bed and get moving. Exercise causes the release of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and endorphins, all of which help as mood and energy boosters. They also aid in concentration and motivation while supplying natural energy to get through the day. Recommended exercises include yoga, aerobics, cardio, and weightlifting.

5. Get Social

Seasonal depression can lead to staying home and isolating from others. It can be tough leaving our homes to interact with loved ones, but whether it be through FaceTime or in-person meeting, human interaction can combat symptoms of loneliness and boost mood. With Covid-19 making it more difficult, it is important to find creative ways to remain social such as Zoom parties or gatherings outside.

6. Self-care

Self-care is an act of self-love, letting yourself know that you are doing great and deserve to have nice moments with yourself. Self-care can be a variety of things like eating healthy food that makes you feel good, taking time to meditate and ground yourself, having a day to yourself to recharge, or even patting yourself on the back for doing your best this winter even though it’s been tough. 


5 Brain-Boosting Chemicals Released During Exercise • Cathe Friedrich

Light therapy – Mayo Clinic

Seasonal Affective Disorder | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Student Health | Student Health – Eastern Oregon University (

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