Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Strategies for December

Thursday, Dec 14, 2023 | Lifestyle

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Strategies for December

As the winter chill settles in and daylight wanes, many people find themselves navigating more than just frosty weather. For all those on their weight loss journey, the winter months can pose an additional challenge in the form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

December, with its shorter days and longer nights, can be particularly challenging. In this guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of Seasonal Affective Disorder and explore nurturing strategies to help you cope during this month, fostering not only mental well-being but also supporting your weight loss goals.


Article Overview:

  • What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
  • Strategies to Cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Precautions
  • Conclusion


What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at a specific time of the year, usually in the fall and winter when daylight hours are shorter. It is a form of major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern. While it is less common, some people experience SAD during the spring and summer months. The key characteristic of SAD is that symptoms occur consistently and predictably during a particular season, leading to a cyclical pattern of depressive episodes. The exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, but several factors may contribute to its development. 

Changes in the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) and disruptions in the production of melatonin and serotonin, neurotransmitters that influence mood and sleep, are thought to play a role. There may also be a genetic predisposition to developing SAD, as it often runs in families. The decrease in sunlight during the fall and winter months can affect the body’s biological clock and melatonin production, potentially leading to symptoms of depression. Shifts in hormones, particularly in women, may contribute to the development of SAD.


There are a few common symptoms associated with SAD. These include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, or a low mood that lasts for most of the day
  • Decreased interest in once enjoyable activities.
  • Fatigue and a lack of energy, even with sufficient sleep.
  • Either oversleeping (hypersomnia) or difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Increased cravings for carbohydrates and weight gain.
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks and making decisions.
  • A sense of despair or hopelessness about the future.
  • Withdrawing from social activities and relationships.


It’s important to note that while SAD shares some symptoms with major depressive disorder, the distinctive feature is the seasonal pattern of symptom onset and remission. Symptoms typically begin in the fall or winter and improve in the spring or summer.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can significantly impact weight loss efforts due to its influence on mood, energy levels, and lifestyle behaviors. People experiencing SAD may encounter symptoms like low energy, increased appetite (particularly for carbohydrates), and disrupted sleep patterns. These factors can contribute to overeating and choosing less healthy food options. Additionally, the diminished motivation and lethargy associated with SAD can impede regular exercise routines, making it challenging to maintain an active lifestyle essential for weight loss. Addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of SAD is crucial for mitigating its impact on weight loss goals.


Strategies to Cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can cast a shadow over the winter months, but with the right strategies, you can navigate this season with resilience and well-being. Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves exposure to a bright light that mimics natural sunlight. This can help regulate your circadian rhythm and improve your mood. You can invest in a lightbox with at least 10,000 lux, and aim for daily exposure, especially in the morning.

Engage in regular physical activity to boost your mood. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters. Choose activities you enjoy, whether it’s indoor workouts, winter sports, or brisk walks in natural light. Get involved in activities you enjoy during the winter months. Whether it’s reading, painting, or exploring winter landscapes, find hobbies that bring you joy. Create a list of winter activities you look forward to and schedule them into your routine.

Optimize your diet with foods that support mental well-being. Include omega-3 fatty acids, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. Incorporate fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and whole grains into your meals to nourish your brain. The Healthi app serves as a fantastic tool for maintaining a well-rounded diet plan. It not only generates personalized meal plans but also offers a variety of recipes to diversify your meals. Using BITES, a system of numerical values for food items, the app facilitates informed food choices and aids in tracking your consistency and progress toward healthier eating habits.

Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques to manage stress and anxiety. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can provide relief. Dedicate time each day for mindfulness practices to cultivate a sense of calm.

Stay connected with friends and family. Socializing, even virtually, can provide emotional support and alleviate feelings of loneliness. Schedule regular social activities, whether it’s virtual game nights, phone calls, or outdoor meet-ups. The Healthi app offers a vibrant community of individuals with similar health goals, allowing you to connect with like-minded people at various stages of their journeys. Through this community, you can find support, empathy, and valuable tips and tricks to stay motivated and on track.

Establishing a routine provides a sense of stability during darker months. Consistent sleep patterns and daily schedules contribute to overall well-being. Stick to a regular sleep schedule and create a daily routine that includes activities you enjoy. You can also embrace the Danish concept of hygge, creating a cozy and warm atmosphere. Light candles, use soft blankets and engage in activities that bring comfort. Create a hygge-friendly space in your home for relaxation and rejuvenation.



If you feel that your SAD symptoms persist or worsen, consider seeking professional help. Therapists or counselors can provide personalized strategies and support. Reach out to mental health professionals who specialize in mood disorders or depression for guidance. 

In some cases, medication may be recommended. Consult with healthcare providers to discuss the potential benefits and risks of medication. Be open and honest with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and concerns to receive appropriate guidance.


As December unfolds with its chilly embrace, remember that your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health. By incorporating these nurturing strategies into your routine, you can navigate the challenges of Seasonal Affective Disorder with resilience and grace. 

Whether it’s basking in the glow of a light box, engaging in winter-friendly exercises, or savoring the comforts of hygge, know that you have the tools to cultivate a brighter mindset. This December, let self-care be your guiding light, illuminating a path toward mental and physical well-being on your weight loss journey.