7 Tips to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder

Going outside, ideally one hour a day, is an excellent way to enjoy the sunlight while clearing your head from daily worries.

The Holidays, the snow, a cup of hot chocolate... There is warmth in winter, despite the freezing temperatures. But we must remain mindful; our mood is affected by the weather. From a simple winter blues episode to seasonal affective disorder, the cold and the lack of light can drag us down. Here are 7 tips to preserve your mental health and that of your family this winter.

Go outside

Going outside, ideally one hour a day, is an excellent way to enjoy the sunlight while clearing your head from daily worries. Not only does this help with seasonal affective disorder, but its benefits on our physical health are numerous (increase in cholesterol level and bone density, better growth in kids, etc.).


Keep active

A healthy mind in a healthy body. Practicing a physical activity on a regular basis causes the brain to produce endorphin and serotonin, commonly called "happy hormones". In that sense, certain studies have shown that a regular physical activity of at least 40 minutes per day can have the same effect as an antidepressant. Also, keeping active all year long promotes better brain health in kids and in adults as well; moving helps preserve your memory, and even strengthens it.


Let the sunshine in

Grab every chance you have to let natural light in. When the sky is clear, make sure to expose the furniture below windows. This cleans up the air in the house and increases well-being. Then, make sure to expose your office space to sunlight. Finally, painting the walls in a light colour and hanging mirrors in strategic places allows to reflect light to a maximum.


Try light therapy

If exposure to sunlight is not possible, there are 10,000-lux lamps that help compensate the lack of light. Place your lamp about 15 inches from your face without looking at it directly for 30 minutes, preferably in the morning.


Eat antidepressant foods at least twice a week

Eating foods that are rich in omega-3, vitamin B and amino acids is a great way to prevent depression. Which foods to choose? There are plenty of possibilities: fish, turkey, milk, flax seeds, dates, chocolate and lots of others.


Spend time with the people you love

Keeping in touch with your loved ones considerably reduces the risk of suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Go out with friends, have a family dinner or join a jogging group. All positive interactions are beneficial to your mental health.


Listen to music or play an instrument

Listening to music will help lift your spirit. Create playlists with your favourite songs and carry them along wherever you go. Music is known to have a strong effect on the human psyche. Playing music is also a powerful antidepressant.


However, if you have symptoms such as extreme fatigue or a persistent loss of appetite, consider consulting a healthcare professional.

Did you know?

  • 2 to 3% of Canadians suffer from seasonal affective disorder1.
  • 90% of seasonal affective disorder cases are women1.
  • Nearly 15% of Canadians suffer from minor seasonal affective disorder1.
  • Most cases are between 20 and 301.

1 Source: Canadian Mental Health Association.