Feature Image by Emma Simpson

We can all relate to feeling a little down once the colder, darker days of winter set in, but for some, the mood change is so drastic that they’re affected with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

According to The Mayo Clinic, oversleeping, appetite changes (especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates), weight gain, tiredness, and low energy are symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD.

If you’re dealing with a bit of seasonal depression, read on to find what five therapists and doctors suggest to combat the effects.

Get moving
If you can’t take your daily jog outside due to dark evenings or snowy streets, get a gym membership, download a fitness app, or watch YouTube yoga videos in your living room. “Exercise boosts endorphins and keeps your mood lifted during the winter,” says Julia Musker, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Walk It Out Therapy. “Even 10 to 20 minutes each day will make a difference!”

Soak up the sun 
Winter blues hit hardest in the mornings when you’re getting out of bed. Ani Kalayjian, a clinical psychology professor, tells her clients to open curtains as much as possible to get exposure to natural light as soon as the body is waking up.

Cognitive behavioral therapy
According to Dr. Kelly Rohan, the director of clinical training at the University of Vermont, cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of talk therapy that seeks to change thought patterns and behavior, can help break the cycle of seasonal depression.

Try light therapy 
Light therapy entails sitting close to a special light box that provides 10,000 lux (a unit of measurement for light intensity) for 30 minutes a day, usually as soon as you wake up. “You need to have your eyes open, but don’t look directly at the light,” suggests Dr. Michael Craig Miller. “Many people use the time to read a newspaper, book, or magazine or catch up on work.”

Get more vitamin D 
Everyone should take a daily supplement of 2,000 IU, but higher doses of vitamin D may be needed to effectively treat SAD, according to Dr. Andrew Weil. It’s estimated that more than 70 percent of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient, so upping your intake during winter can make a big difference in your overall mood.

Looking for something else to help boost your mood? Check out the one thing everyone should do for their mental health here.

xx, The FabFitFun Team