I think more people struggle with SAD than realize it. I've encountered a whole lot of crabby people during the cloudy days of winter. Sometimes I just want to shake them and tell them they're in denial. "Get help!" Over the years, I've learned ways to help me cope with SAD. Because of these strategies, I sometimes don't feel the effects of SAD at all.
First, and most importantly, I have to get out in the sun--even if it's zero degrees and cloudy. Shoveling snow or taking a walk will usually boost my mood for 24 hours or so. It used to help me to simply drive in the car every day during the winter, but now that manufacturers have improved UV protection in car windows, that doesn't seem to help me as much. My fifteen minutes in the sun is my medicine. I also keep the window shades open during the day and use a full spectrum light at my desk.
Second, I try to lower my expectations. I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I'm not perfect. I just want to be. Yeah. That's part of the problem. New Year's resolutions can really get me down if I try too hard to get them all done in January and February.
Third, I exercise every day. It always improves my mood and energy--unless I'm doing burpees and planks. I kind of hate burpees and planks. I only do exercises I like to do.
Fourth, I take a vitamin D supplement along with a multivitamin. I've heard fish oil helps too, but I haven't tried it. If I can ever get over the taste . . .
Fifth, I try to stay spiritually in tune. Depending on your beliefs, you might do something totally different than I do. I like to to read scriptures every morning and pray. Right now, I'm studying the lessons my teenagers are learning at church. Earlier this year, I studied all the topics from the BYU Women's Conference. I figured since I couldn't go to the conference, I'd teach myself little lessons about every class listed in the syllabus. I really enjoyed my study during that time.
Sixth, I notice that if I'm excited about something, I'm much less likely to get depressed. I try to plan events to look forward to. It usually makes me happy to help other people outside my family (as long as I don't overdo it.) And I find I also enjoy giving myself little rewards for small accomplishments.
What keeps you happy during the winter months?