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Uninspired in the New Year: Seasonal Affective Disorder

landscape photography of snow pathway between trees during winter

Photo by Simon Berger on

A long time ago, I chose to stop treating the demarcation between December 31 and January 1 as a big deal. Partially due to the fact that it is, essentially, a completely arbitrary day. And the other reason is that it felt very triggering for seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD for a cutesy colloquial name, is also winter blues, seasonal funk, and probably a whole host of other names. In Ayurveda, it might be Vata imbalance. To a psychoanalyst, maybe it’s cause for medication. But no matter which way you slice it, dice it or call it, it’s a bummer.

It took me a long time to come around to calling it SAD. In Minnesota, we have long winters. And it’s just part and parcel of living here, right? But we don’t have to find joy in every snow fall and sub-zero temperature day. Toss in the few light hours, the hormonal effects of the emotional letdown after the rush of the holidays, plus the season where the majority of people are sick and don’t feel like driving on icy, snowy streets with limited parking? Who wouldn’t be a little SAD?

To be honest, I haven’t officially been diagnosed with SAD or a SAD-related condition (i.e. bipolar disorder is usually associated with SAD). But in my 38 years on this spinning rock, I have identified a few things that do help me feel better. And no it doesn’t involve a happy light (I have one, but I forget to use it all the time).

Seasonal Affective Disorder Tips

Add to the SAD Tip List

The ultimate cause for SAD is unknown. But it’s thought that drops in serotonin, changes in melatonin, and changes to our circadian rhythms disrupting our internal clock play a part. Finding natural ways to boost or balance these factors plays a big part in finding a little more peace this time of year.

SAD can strike at any time of year, but most frequently in the winter months. What sorts of things help you feel better in these chilly months?

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