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6 Ways to Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder This Winter


If you’re struggling with negative thoughts or suicidal feelings, resources are available to help. In the UScall the Suicide and Crisis  Lifeline at 988; in the UK, call the Samaritans at 116 123; and in Australia, call Lifeline at 13 11 14. Additionally, you can find help at these 13 suicide and crisis intervention hotlines.


Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression characterized by a recurring seasonal pattern. For most people, it spikes during the fall and winter months, which happens to be right now. When depression and stress spike in your life, managing symptoms can feel impossible. They can affect your ability to function at work or maintain healthy relationships. 

If you’re looking to get ahead of your depression symptoms — seasonal or not — try implementing these coping strategies to help manage your daily depression while still thriving. 

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And for more tips to help combat depression and stress, here are six practical strategies to manage stress and breathing exercises to help relieve your stress

6 coping strategies for depression

The World Health Organization reports that approximately 280 million people in the world have been diagnosed with depression. Though depression is common, it’s a serious health condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Over 700,000 people die yearly from suicide, often resulting from depression. 

If you’re feeling depressed or extra stressed, there are ways to improve your mental health and live a fulfilling life.

Acknowledge your symptoms

No one knows you better than you. Look for signs and symptoms that may be out of the norm. Here are some to look out for:

  • You’re feeling more withdrawn than usual.
  • You’re behaving more erratically or impulsively than usual. 
  • You’re more irritable more often. 
  • You’re feeling sad, lonely or hopeless. 
  • You’re experiencing sleep disturbances. 

It’s always a good idea to pay attention to concerns expressed by close friends and family. If the people who love you are concerned about your mental health, they may be seeing symptoms of depression you aren’t aware of. 

If you’re experiencing some or all of these symptoms, acknowledging that stress or depression may be the cause will help you get on the path to feeling better. 

Give yourself some grace 

Giving yourself some grace can mean different things to different people, but the general idea behind it is self-compassion. Practice extending to yourself the same compassion you show others. For example, if your friend were feeling down, what would you say? Now imagine saying the same thing to yourself in that situation. 

It’s perfectly OK not to fit into the cultural norms that leave you feeling pressured, stressed or anxious. For example, it’s OK if you can’t attend every social event or simply don’t want to (see the next item).

Read moreHow Video Games Help Me Endure the Winter Blues

Keep your plans realistic

Social situations like parties and other get-togethers can sometimes add to negative feelings or even social anxiety. Depending on your situation, you may have invitations to parties with friends, work, church and other social groups. Or you may have no invitations at all. Your self-worth isn’t dependent on the number of events you attend. Accept only the invitations you wish to accept and avoid overscheduling.

Sometimes the unrealistic expectations are those we set for others. Then, if they don’t quite muster up, we feel disappointed. Remember to avoid setting expectations for others.

Limit alcohol

Woman refusing wine from a friend.

Peter Cade/Getty Images

Don’t be fooled into thinking the sometimes relaxing effects of alcohol override the negative effects. When too much is consumed, alcohol can quickly turn from relaxing to depressing. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and affects mood and behavior. Even after the alcohol is out of your system, hangovers are known to increase anxiety and stress levels. 

To reduce the negative effects of alcohol, limit yourself to one to two drinks.

And you should consult your medical doctor before consuming alcohol while taking any prescribed antidepressants or antianxiety medications. 

Get active

Exercise does more for you than just keeping you fit. Working out can also be extremely beneficial for your mental health. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. These chemicals interact with your brain’s receptors and can reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins can also boost your mood and reduce stress. If you don’t feel like doing a strenuous workout, walking for just 20 minutes a day can make a big difference.

Lean on your family and friends

Spending time with people you enjoy can be a wonderful mood booster. Being in the company of those we love can increase our feelings of acceptance, comfort and security. If you’re feeling down, it’s OK to talk with your loved ones about it so they can give you the support you need. If they know what’s going on with you, they can be a better support system. 

Don’t be afraid to get help

When you’re showing signs of depression, help can come in several forms. But the most important thing to remember is never to be ashamed to ask for help. Whether it’s talking to a loved one, seeking help from a mental health professional or discussing medication or treatment options with a medical provider, it’s important to get the help you need. 

For more tips on improving your mental health, check out our tips on boosting productivity and how to declutter your life.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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