How to Navigate Winter Blues Like a Pro: Transition Seasons Better Than Ever

“We need to go back to the beach, I’m too sad for rain.”

I hung up the phone and looked out at the gloomy day. While some might call the seasonal transition from summer to autumn ‘beautiful’ or ‘romantic’, I call it depressing. Or at least I did that day. 

My partner and I had just gotten home from a week at the beach. Nothing but blue skies, sunshine, and the occasional sun poisoning, but we don’t have to talk about that. 

The juxtaposition between that sunny week at the beach and the rainy and gloomy day in Nashville was too much for me and I automatically became sad. 


Why Does The Weather Control Our Moods? AKA Winter Blues

If you’re like me, your mood matches the weather in the same way some dogs match their owners. It makes sense, when it’s warm you’re more likely to go outside and spend time in the sunshine. When it’s cold, you’re more likely to hunker down. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) rears its ugly head from October through April. That’s seven months of the year. Those are the months with the least amount of daylight; not to mention that the colder it is, the less likely you are to go running or walking outside because “it’s freezing!” 

How Do I Know If I’m Sad or SAD?

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SAD looks a lot like depression. 5% of adults in the U.S. deal with SAD for about 40% of the year. The American Psychiatric Association says that SAD comes from “a biochemical imbalance in the brain that’s prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight”. This idea dates back to before electricity. When it gets dark, people slow down and go to sleep. So when the majority of the days in winter are dark, we become sluggish, weary, and… SAD!

Other Reasons That You’re Not Feeling Too Hot

5% of adults suffer from seasonal affective disorder. While that’s a pretty big number, you might not fall into that category. But that doesn’t make your feelings of sadness and gloom any less important. 

One reason why you might be dreading the end of summer is that summer represents joy and freedom for most of us. It doesn’t matter how old I get, I will always think of summer in the way I did when I was 8 years old. Summer was a time of pool parties and no school. It was when I could stay up all night and not have any consequences. While the summer breaks are nonexistent now as an adult, the feeling of summer still remains, and losing that feeling is never fun. 

Not to mention that now school is starting again for your kids, and that adds another layer of pressure and time sensitivity that you have to be aware of. Transitioning seasons is just that: a transformation and a shift. 

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How Do I Become GLAD?

Okay, that’s not a real acronym, but humor me. If you’re like me and suffer from seasonal affective disorder, you’re probably feeling pretty unmotivated, sad, and in a constant state of questioning if you can do your work from bed while watching Gilmore Girls. While a day off is always encouraged, there are some practical ways to get moving and grooving and get out of your seasonal funk. 

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Keep Up With Your Routine

Nothing messes me up like changing my routines. While the need to keep a routine stems somewhat from my control issues, keeping a routine is actually proven to alleviate anxiety, promote healthy habits, combat burnout, and keep us focused. Keeping a routine helps to keep a normal schedule when everything is up in the air. So when the sunlight and heat are changing, our daily activities won’t.

Follow The Light

Light is so important in our daily routines. It wakes us up and energizes us. I start every morning by opening the blinds and greeting the day (I actually roll out of bed and start watching TikTok, but shhh). While the ‘real’ sun might be hiding as the seasons shift, there are some Amazon hacks to get your daily sun exposure too. There are sunset lamp projectors, sunrise alarm clocks, and many more lightboxes that will allow you to get the light you need. 

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Be Aware of Your Carbs

In my house, my mom would bake bread every snow day. It was a sweet little tradition that I stick to even today. But there’s actually a scientific reason as to why we crave carbs when the weather gets colder. People will stock up on carbs to feel more energized during the seasonal transitions. So while I am always a sucker for a good slice of bread, I also suggest infusing vitamin D and omega 3-infused foods into your diet throughout these months as well. 

Stay Active

I know that it might be harder to hype yourself up on a run when you’re switching your running shorts out with yoga pants, but try to find ways to stay as active as you’ve been in the summer months. Do half your workout inside and then maybe add a brisk walk at the end. And the good news is that while the summer sun might not be there to give you energy, the fall sun won’t turn you into a puddle of sweat every time you walk outside.

Respect Your Boundaries, But Don’t Stay Inside Every Day

I know how tempting that Gilmore Girls offer is, trust me. But make a conscious effort to go outside every day. Whether that means spreading out your grocery store runs and errands to every other day or agreeing to walk every morning, try to get out and about at least once a day. 

Enjoy the Change!

The seasonal shift can be really hard to deal with. Whether you suffer from SAD or you’re dreading school as much as your children, any change from what we’re used to always comes with some difficulty. But the change is also necessary and beautiful. 

Find the joy in sitting on your porch and sipping coffee in the cool morning air. Go apple picking or leaf raking, or something that will get your fall senses tingling.

Change is normal and natural, but it’s also helpful to have some measures in place so that you can take on this summer-to-fall transition and navigate the winter blues like a pro. 


Do you have any suggestions for how to navigate SAD? Are you excited for the summer-to-fall transition or are you dreading it? Comment below!

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