When temperatures begin to drop and days become shorter, it is common to experience seasonal affective disorder. If you find that you have lost interest in enjoyable activities, are tired all the time, are having trouble sleeping or concentrating, or are feeling depressed, you may have SAD. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to combat this condition and get back to feeling like yourself.

1. Utilize Comforting Therapies

A great strategy to overcome seasonal affective disorder is to find ways to lift your spirits naturally. Though the shorter, darker, colder days may take a toll, it’s possible to see this time as an opportunity to explore enjoyable things that will rejuvenate you.

One helpful tool is light therapy. It is easy to neglect going outside when it’s cold, which means that you are limiting your access to the sun; this can deplete vitamin D and negatively affect your hormones. Making a point to be in the sun for 15 to 30 minutes a day can combat seasonal affective disorder and help you feel better physically and mentally. If you cannot go outside regularly, you could invest in a light therapy box that mimics actual sunlight and has similar uplifting effects.

Another natural way to counteract SAD is aromatherapy. Your sense of smell is a powerful tool that can be helpful in lifting your mood. Some scents that are especially therapeutic include orange, cinnamon, lavender, jasmine, lemon, and peppermint. There are many ways to add aromatherapy to your days, including candles, oil diffusers, and fragrance sprays. For a convenient source of aromatherapy to have wherever you go, try mint lip balm. Simply adding aromatherapy to your day can quickly help your mind relax and elevate your mood.

2. Prioritize Healthy Choices

It can be all too tempting to turn to unhealthy food when struggling with seasonal affective disorder, but it’s important to make sure that your food choices are healthy and will benefit you, rather than cause more harm. Foods that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat are acceptable on rare occasions, but they are not good to have in large quantities on a regular basis. Instead, prioritize healthy foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats.

In addition to eating healthy, it is also beneficial to be active every day. There are so many fitness options available that it’s certainly possible to find ones that you enjoy. You may join a gym or health club or engage in a fun activity such as riding a bike, hiking, or swimming. If you are an athlete, you could join one of the local volunteer athletic leagues that can be found in many cities.

If you need to stay home, you can easily find online fitness classes, including those for pilates, weightlifting, and aerobics. Another great option is to purchase a stationary bike, elliptical, or treadmill. Whatever fitness style you prefer, make sure to follow a schedule and set goals to help yourself stay motivated. Working out a little each day can improve your energy level and your mood.

3. Make Time for Positive People and Things

When struggling with SAD, it can be easy to withdraw from the people and things you enjoy most. To improve your mood and help yourself feel better, it’s crucial to find ways to stay connected. When you feel yourself withdrawing, open up to people in your life so they can help you and check in with you regularly. Make plans with people so that you are more likely to follow through.

Also, be intentional about doing things that will lift your spirits. Turn off social media and read a good book, work on a hobby, or play with your pet. By setting aside time for loved ones and favorite activities, you will help yourself feel better and limit the effects of SAD.

Seasonal affective disorder is a real problem for many people, but it can be improved by making conscientious choices. Access natural therapies, prioritize your health, and find time for favorite people and things so that you can combat SAD and feel better!