What to Do When the Shortest Day of the Year Makes You SAD


So, today is the Winter Solstice. Honestly, that sounds beautiful, in my opinion. What a beautiful name for the first day of winter! Sadly, it is also the shortest day of the year, meaning it brings with it the narrowest window of daylight.



Isn’t that sunset stunning? Unfortunately, it came at 4:23PM.


Last year, I shared with you all some of the struggles I have during the winter/low-light season. While I admit that I once scoffed at the idea of seasonal affective disorder, I now realize that I’m very much affected by the early sunsets and grey skies. Fun fact: I was born on the longest day of the year. Maybe I’m pre-wired to love the light? Who knows…


Anyway, I’m doing a fair bit better this year and I thought I’d share a few of the things I believe are helping me. I want to be very clear in pointing out that none of these are miracle cures. I have a visceral reaction to “AMAZING! MIRACULOUS! MIND-BLOWING!” treatments that people tout– and it’s not a good one. I believe very strongly that things can be very good without being miracles. And I want to be sure to convey these things in that light. These things have truly helped me, but they’re not cures and they may or may not impact others in the same way.


Get outside and get out early.


It might seem weird that getting outside when it’s still dark is helpful, but it really is. Getting fresh air is critical to feeling well and refreshed. Morning air is perfect for this. I hit the pavement at 6AM most mornings, and it’s decidedly dark. Still, I often get to watch the sun start to peek out by the end of my jaunt and there’s something very uplifting about that. Forcing oneself outside when it’s frigid and dark isn’t always easy– but it’s always worth it. (Note: I do not do this if it’s icy; a broken ankle doesn’t help anyone’s well-being.)


Sometimes, you need some extra D.


Vitamin D, that is. I take Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) and Vitamin B (the energy vitamin) supplements throughout the late fall to early spring months. I’ll be honest– I don’t really like taking vitamins. I much prefer to get these things through food (or sunlight!) But, when that’s not possible or I feel myself really impacted by the waning light and resultant lack of pep, I’m happy to have the option to up the levels in my body through supplementation. I don’t buy anything overly fancy– just a reliable brand available at a drug store.


Sunshine on the snow brightens the day.


I would take a breezy, sunny day over a snowy one any day of the week, but the white stuff is pretty. It’s also highly reflective, as anyone trying to drive toward the sun will tell you! (Gah! I’m BLIND!!!) Anyway, this means that, when I get the chance, I love to go outside when the sun is beaming off the snow. It is wildly bright and sparkly and it does my soul good. I might not be able to get as many hours of sunlight or very much skin exposed, but I can at least benefit from the bright beams as they bounce off that starkly white carpet.


I trick my brain with citrus.


I’ve taken to diffusing lemon oil in my home, since the scent makes me happy. I also mix orange oil into my moisturizer. The smell of citrus is just so very bright and zingy and summery, I can’t help but feel encouraged when I smell them. I realize that many people would much prefer to breathe in pine and cinnamon this time of year, but I keep on keepin’ on with the citrus. I drink lemon in my water and have been known to take a big ol’ whiff right from the oil bottle from time to time. It gives me an immediate lift to inhale that joyful scent!



These things are helping me feel a little more even, emotionally, this year. Do I still miss the light? Oh, yes. I always feel a twinge of sadness when I head out to karate and it is completely pitch black on the drive there. I recall, fondly, the summer days when it would still be bright when we were finishing up!


Alas, seasons come and seasons go and, for now, I’ll rely on my little tips and tricks to keep me encouraged. And, when all else fails, I’ll just remember that Winter is always followed by Spring and my days of abundant sunshine are right around the corner!

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