Milk and Honey Magazine tips on overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder. Find your happy place, princess!

Beating the Winter Blues

Hannah Coffman

You may have experienced a few days in the winter when the chill sets in, not only in your fingers and toes, but in your mind and mood as well. It’s a little harder to push yourself out of bed when you hear the alarm. It’s a little easier to hit the snooze button a few times. It’s a little more common to feel like you haven’t accomplished anything when you’re headed home from work as dusk falls, or you’re headed to the gym because it’s too cold to jog outside.

This phenomenon has a clinical name—Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD, for short. Fits, doesn’t it?) As a Christ follower, it can feel wrong to experience sadness over a simple thing like the changing of the seasons. I think there’s this idea in our minds that if we feel sad, there’s something wrong with our relationship with Christ.

That’s just not true.

Yes, we have perfect joy in Jesus. “The joy of the Lord is our strength,” says Nehemiah 8:10. But no matter what our feelings are in this present moment, they do not take away the truth or the power of the gospel that has saved us. Emotions may change, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

SAD is a real disorder that happens when our bodies are exposed to less sunlight. As a result, we produce less vitamin D and melatonin. This disorder affects half a million Americans, and between 60% and 90% of them are women! (Psych Central, 2016). Feeling tired, anxious and sad during the winter months is very common.

Milk and Honey Magazine tips on overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder. Find your happy place, princess!

So what can we do to combat winter and spill a little sunshine into our lives?

Find a way to enjoy the winter sunshine, even if that means waking up a little early to take your dog on a walk or just sitting on your couch bundled up in blankets with the curtains wide open. During the winter, I’m tempted to leave the curtains drawn all day because it gets dark so early. But opening them up so that the light streams in makes a huge difference in my mood. God made our bodies to soak up the sun!

Consider supplementing your diet with vitamin D. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D on your own during the winter, and taking a supplement can really help boost your mood and keep your body working properly—so you’ll stop feeling foggy, distracted, and tired! If you’re not a pill person, vitamin D is sold in all sorts of different forms, from gummies to powders to tablets that melt in your mouth.

Workout and embrace those endorphins! Exercising is a natural way to release endorphins in your body—hormones that make us feel awake, alert, and happy. That’s why you get a natural “high” after a great workout. If you don’t fancy hitting the gym, Youtube is full of instructional videos of short 10-15 minute workouts you can do in your own living room.

Milk and Honey Magazine tips on overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder. Find your happy place, princess!

Find your happy place. I’m a nature lover, which means that sometimes I feel sad during the winter months because there’s not as much opportunity to swim in rivers, hike, hammock, kayak, or road bike. But I keep a list of other activities that I love so I’ll have the opportunity to focus on those things. I love yoga, journaling, drinking hot tea, wearing cozy socks, and listening to or making music. Thankfully, those are all things I can enjoy during the winter, too. For you, it might be reading a great book, baking, crafting, knitting, or anything that gets your creative juices flowing.

Try aromatherapy to calm your mind. Since our bodies don’t produce as much melatonin in the winter, (a hormone which regulates our sleep cycle), it can be easy to get thrown off our sleeping schedule and feel tired and irritable all day. However, there are some things that can help you relax and get ready for bed—a hot shower or hot bath with lavender or other relaxing scents can do the trick.

Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer. You might feel silly, but it’s 100% okay to pray about feeling sad, tired, and irritable during the winter, and it’s also 100% okay to ask for prayer. It’s so incredibly encouraging to know that other people care and are talking to God about your heart. As Ephesians 6:18 says—“with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit…be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Pray for others, and let them pray for you.

I hope you’re motivated to pull on some slippers, brew some tea, and sway to your favorite tunes. In this wintery season, God is with you, and “He will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). That truth is the most hopeful thing of all to keep close to your heart in times of twilight.

*x's & o's to Jeanette Morelan for her gorgeous photos!