· Essential Oils · Feeling S.A.D.? Try These 5 Natural Remedies For The Winter Blues

Feeling S.A.D.? Try These 5 Natural Remedies For The Winter Blues

winter blues

Soon after the excitement of the holidays is over I often find myself facing the rest of the winter with a feeling of dread and a bit of melancholy. Although I’ve never actually been diagnosed with SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, sometimes I feel like I might suffer from a touch of it.

Feelings of sadness, lack of focus, fatigue, and moodiness around this time of year are all common symptoms of SAD. Mild forms of SAD are believed to affect as many as 20% of people in the United States. Experts aren’t sure what causes SAD, but they think it may be caused by a lack of sunlight. Lack of light may upset your sleep-wake cycle and other circadian rhythms, and it may cause problems with a brain chemical called serotonin that affects mood.

Fortunately, some SAD symptoms can be minimized by doing a few simple things.

winter blues

1. Get your daily dose of sunlight.

Get as much natural light as possible between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. Get outside and go for a walk, or at least sit by a window. Open the curtains, pull up the shades, and spend time in the sunniest room in the house.

Some people might be helped by special “light therapy boxes.” Talk with your doctor about whether you should try one of these devices.

winter blues

2. Eat foods containing tryptophan.

Many who suffer from seasonal depression may experience decreased levels of serotonin, the brain’s neurotransmitter. Tryptophan is an amino acid known to be a precursor of serotonin, so eating foods that contain it may increase your body’s production of serotonin, thus making you feel better. Foods rich in tryptophan include turkey, spinach, bananas, seafood, milk, and egg whites.

winter blues

3. Limit alcohol and caffeine.

Alcohol is a depressant that can lower your mood, and caffeine usually leaves you anxious. They might make you feel better short-term but these can lead to mood swings that can deepen your depression.

winter blues

4. Get moving.

Getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat is a sure way to raise serotonin and endorphin levels – this is especially beneficial if you do it in the morning. Even better, exercise in the sun or near a sunny window.

You can also keep your body’s clock in sync by rising and retiring at the same time each day, even on weekends or days off from work.

5. Use essential oils.

Essential oils can be powerful mood-lifters and are perfect to help combat the winter blues and re-energize you, especially when combined with the above treatments. This is the time of year to use your citrus essential oils.

Sweet Orange, Tangerine, Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, and Bergamot are all energizing and mood elevating oils that help uplift the spirits when the winter blues set in.

Here are some of the ways I like to use these uplifting oils:

  • Diffuse them in the air.
  • Add them to my bath water.
  • Rub them on the bottom of my feet.
  • Put 2-3 drops in my hands and rub them together, cup my hands over my nose and  b r e a t h e  d e e p l y!
  • Put 3-4 drops in my water bottle.

Other easy ways to add citrus oils to your daily routine are adding a drop or two to your dish water when you are washing dishes, keeping a citrus oil in your purse to use as a hand-sanitizer (they are powerful natural germ killers), mixing a few drops of lemon, lime, grapefruit or sweet orange with water in a glass spray bottle and using it to clean and sanitize surfaces or spray in the air to neutralize odors.

Be sure to seek guidance from a professional if the feelings of depression become overwhelming. If they are not severe, however, some of the natural home remedies listed above may provide some welcome relief over the next couple of months!

What do you do to help ease the “winter blues?

What essential oils do I use?
Have a question about essential oils? Curious about what brand of essential oils I prefer? Find the answers in my Essential Oils FAQ!

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  • Sunlight makes all the difference for everyone. I lived in a city that would get socked in in the winter and you wouldn’t see the sun for several weeks. It seemed everyone got ornery. Once the sun came out, everyone’s disposition improved.

  • I live in AZ so sunshine isn’t a problem but I think many people feel a letdown from after the holidays and for those who live in cold states w/o a lot of sun, it makes the let down even harder..Maybe just going outside and getting a little sunshine would help as well as having some projects lined up, say crafts, or sewing, of even reorganizing your closets. Anything that gets you active and moving.

  • I do suffer from SAD. In a major way. I can remember growing up in suburban Chicago, and there’d be whole MONTHS that the sun never peeked thru. It got to where I really hated winter. (And, as a kid, one Chicago mayoral election was decided by the issue of snow removal because we’d had a few doozey winters of record snowfall.) As an adult, I talked to two different doctors about the huge yearly dread of Oct – April. Both recommended “the light box”. I ordered one. It didn’t help. …….. My solution now is not cheap, but boy does it work! We rent a condo right on the beach in FL, for January and February. (I can work anywhere as long as I have my laptop and internet.) The sun. The palm trees. The waves. It’s phenomenal. Especially the waves. Then, when it’s time to come home to Colorado in March (our snowiest month), it’s much easier to handle the remainder of winter. (In March, condo rental prices skyrocket in FL because of spring break.) We often book next year’s condo while still there this year. It’s hard to wait, but it clears my head like nothing else can. (Unless Hubby is lucky enough to get a biz trip to Hawaii. That works better. But it’s not a regular occurrence!) ……. I love orange, so I think I’m going to look for some orange EO. That smell always makes me happy. ☺

  • I suffer from SAD and do many of the things listed. Increased Vit. D3, all the sunlight I can get, exercise (in the sun is a bonus). But also I try to eat summer foods, sometimes our comfort foods just make us sleepy & gain weight. Also, I follow the times of sunrise & sunset for my area–it gives measurable promise that days are getting better. I look to the calendar for progress. I count down days until winter solstice (because the days get lighter from then on). Then I count down the days to Ground Hog’s Day-34 days (because at most means 6 more weeks of winter). After that I look forward to the vernal equinox. My least favorite month is Jan, because it is gray, rainy, cold, little sun and 31 long days. However, every Jan day brings me closer to my favorite month–Feb. Ground Hog’s day means spring is close, the days are noticeably brighter, a few super warm days happen, there is a day of love mid month and it only has 28 days-which go by so quickly, the first spring flowers come out and I begin to plan my garden.
    I like Marla’s coping skills and think I will adopt most of them. It is a great time to organize, declutter, clean & restock.
    Also–I log into OGT to see what Jillee is up to.

  • Thank you for this post! January is the most depressing month of the year for me. I think it is because the last part of the previous year is filled with Holidays and excitement compared to the doldrums of January. I always try to get my daily dose of sunshine, excellent tips. :)

  • This is what is at the bottom or my email
    the ‘unscribribe’ is a link as is ‘change your ccontact details’
    One Good Thing By Jillee, 57 W University Pkwy, Orem, UT 84058, United States
    You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.

    I do not want to unsubcribe either as Jillee has share a lot of great informationou . Thank you Jillee.and Thank you Stacey. Happy New Year All….

  • These are great suggestions. I do suffer from SAD. On the advice of my homeopathic doctor, I doubled the amount of my daily Vitamin D. I can’t begin to explain how good I feel! I am even sleeping better at night.

  • FIRST and foremost, I want to wish each and every one of you a very blessed and safe New Year (when it gets here) . On the subject of S.A.D., I give my grandkids a vitamin D supplement every day that I visit or babysit them. As even kids get down at this time of the year ( ie: winter months), it’s important to supplement them as well (I use a kid’s formula not adult). We live in the Northwest (Oregon) and get very limited sunlight during the winter months. I love the idea of light therapy………………and using citrus eos as supplementary uses……………………Love ONE GOOD THING BY JILLEE but, I think her blog should be called LOTS OF GOOD THINGS BY JILLEE………………………..

  • When you say to put eo’s in your water bottle, do you mean the one you drink from? It sounds good to me, but the person I just told about it looked at me like I have five heads! I like finding new uses for my collection of eo’s.

  • Great ideas. I find that I really NEED to go outdoors for at least a minimal amount of time every day…especially in winter. Even if it’s cold, I go out for a short walk. I also take D3 through fall and winter until the sunshine gets stronger. It has really helped me with mood/attitude as well as staying healthy. Better than a flu shot. I like the idea of using EOs for mood lifters. I have recently been adding orange oil and clove oil to my pot on the stove to bring some yummy smells and humidity into the air. Thanks, Jillee.

  • i do NOT want to unsubscribe-but just letting you know there isn’t an unsubscribe option on mine,either.there is a SUBSCRIBE option-but not unsubscribe.if you are no longer wanting to receive these updates & there is no unsubscribe option,i suggest to just mark it as spam.it will automatically start going into your spam folder. :)

  • I am lucky that I don’t suffer from SADD, but I know someone who does and who was helped greatly by a light box.

    I use Thunderbird for my email, and I do NOT have an Unsubscribe button. I just checked some older messages from you to make sure – no Unsubscribe on them either. I can’t imagine that we’re all blocking this button.

    It is a mystery.


    And I do NOT want to Unsubscribe. Your newsletter is very enjoyable and just the right mix.

  • I am a health care professional and it makes absolute sense to take additional Vitamin D3 in months with reduced sunshine and weather that reduces your time outdoors.
    I take 5000 units per day. That is high, but my lad test shows that I need it. Most people take 1000 to 2000 units per day. It is a good idea to have your level tested and it is not too expensive a test. Cheaper than a light box, I’m thinking. Not to mention that Vitamin D3 is one of the least expensive supplements available.

    Vitamin D3 has also been shown to enhance your immune function.

    All the above suggestions by Jillee and others are excellent as well and I consider them great additional measures to take to avoid SAD.

    To your health….!

  • I’ve read that most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D3, which is called the “sunshine vitamin”. Of course, one of the symptoms of that is depression. I’ve also heard that Seattle has the highest rate of suicides in the country which proves our need for sunshine. I have one friend that uses a tanning bed more in the winter than in the summer because of the light therapy. I don’t recommend it though because of the damage to your skin.

    Thanks Jillee for the recommendations. I love all citrus scents so may have to get some EOs.

  • When I come home from work, I decide which rooms I will be using and put lights on in all of them so that I am not walking into a dark room. It really seems to help and adds only a few pennies to the electric bill. On the weekends, I leave some lights on during the day, as well.

  • re: unsubscribe button – i have yahoo email and there is no unsubscribe, i just checked; however, yahoo has become user unfriendly in this past year so perhaps it is just a yahoo glitch, not showing the unsubscribe button. just a thought. ***I don’t want to unsubscribe…”One good thing” is going to stay with me in ’14.

    about SAD: Adequate Vit D is crucial. I like a peek outside at sunrise to lift my spirits and a walk would be even better. My houseplants require plenty of H20, and I’d guess other house-inhabitants also go without adequate H20.

  • One way I beat depression in Winter is ….
    By a craft project in the crafting dept of Walmart or at Michaels or any retail store that
    Has crafty items u can use that fit your liking and ability…(or even challenge yourself with something more difficult to craft) whatever u
    Choose spend your down time working on 5his craft until completed. ..once finished u have made something and usually spent time focusing on the task and not the depressing thoughts that lead to feeling down and out.
    Thanks for always great tips. Hope all have a wonderful New Year and No S.A.D. cheers :)

  • I take Vitamin D drops. With all the hoopla that multivitamins are probably not worth the money, it may well be a placebo effect but I definitely feel more balanced and happy when I take it. I found a brand that is vegetarian (no fish burps!) and is citrus-flavored, which adds another bit of pep to my step. The drops are at: http://www.bluebonnetnutrition.com/product/326/Liquid_D3_Drops_1000_IU I promise i have no financial interest in the company whatsoever.

    I also eat a lot of citrus because citrus makes me happy. My favorite winter breakfast is broiled grapefruit. Using a grapefruit spoon (cheap at bed, bath & beyond) or a paring knife, you separate each section from the peel and surrounding membrane but leave it in the peel. Sprinkle the top with a little cinnamon and sugar and broil on a baking sheet until the edge of the peel starts to brown. It sounds weird but it is amazing!

  • FYI ………

    NO unsubscribe button at the bottom on MY E-mail, so maybe for some reason it isn’t coming through for everyone.
    I however, DO NOT want to unsubscribe- JUST FYI

      • I don’t see the unsubscribe button either – I check every time someone asks about it. I don’t want to unsubscribe and am happy to see the only button I usually need the Clearprint which I often use.

    • My email doesn’t not show an unsubscribe either. Marla it might be a firewall but I have unsubscribes on other emails that I receive. Always makes me curious why thinks work on some and not others. And mine LOL is usually the one with the exceptions. I was having trouble with Jillee blog not letting me scroll down but now it seems to be working fine. I love Jillee’s blog. Keep up the good work.

    • Something is definitely going through changes or something, I never asked to be unsubscribed but was. (I don’t want to be by the way) :) I’m sure it’s not something Jillee knew about or did on purpose or anything, just growing pains as the site has more trafic. Good luck

  • I live in the Atlanta area and this year has been very rainy, we’ve gotten continuous days of rain or clouds, or soaked weekends. During those long rainy weeks my 6 year old son’s (he has mild high functioning autism) behavior becomes impossible, moody, defiant, rebellious. When I asked his OT therapist she said its lack of sunlight. I laughed and said umm he’s not a flower, but she said at school recess is indoors after school or the weekend we stay indoors, so he doesn’t get any activity or sunlight. Seeing the difference in his behavior when the sun comes out has made me a believer, sunlight is so important for our moods. I’ve heard even typically developing kids become less well behaved during these rainy days. Thanks for the tips I’ll try em out.

  • I feel it as well. Summer is so fun and activity filled then we dive head first into September – I have 6 kids returning to school, different schools for a few so different schedules. Then the holidays come at ya like a freight train! Once the holiday decorations are down I feel a span of emptiness is ahead and it IS depressing! To combat this I make a schedule for myself to reorganize and inventory my kitchen. It took a beating over the holidays so I show it some love come January. Then it is on to closets. Having guests destroys any system I had so now is the time to straighten up and resupply! Keeping my environment clean and tidy really helps me feel centered and nothing sabotages it more than throwing back the curtains to see everything covered in dust. Who has time or the desire to dust around all the holiday decorations anyway? Now is the time to do a thorough dust and vacuum! With the house clean and neat I then focus on restocking the freezer. I make homemade pasta, ravioli, perogies, meatballs, sausages, waffles, pancakes, crockpot meals and so on. As a family we plan simple, fun outings for the weekends so quick meals are handy! Having an event to look forward to is definitely mood boosting! Knowing dinner is just a crockpot away seals the deal! New years day is a great day to make these lists with your family and work on them/ have fun with them- together. It is my Rx for the Winter Blues!

    • Thank you, Marla, for some great ideas. We’re retired and I miss the “structure” of the working life. So many ideas swirl through my head, but I never get to them. You have given some tangible direction to my musings.

      And Jill, great post! All medically approved ideas and easy to do.

      Thank you, Ladies! Hope you have a very Blessed and Happy New Year!

      • We are retired too. I was always used to a routine. I am trying to get some routines going but it is hard to do now. So much to do that I just put off doing anything that doesn’t have to be done. Now things are piling up. As far as the holidays being over that makes me happy. January always feels like a new beginning. I just wish I had half or even a fourth of the energy that Marla has. LOL.

    • I agree, thanks! I’ll have to try a few of these. For me I’ve always just used some hot tea with a bit of mint to get me going in the mornings, but I’ve never had a really bad episode of SAD. Still curious to try some of these, though. :)

  • Get my sunlight by 0800? The sun isn’t even up at my house until after 0730! LOL
    I use a full spectrum light bulb in one lamp, it helps me. Their light looks similar to the “daylight” compact fluorescents, a very bright bluish-white. When my newborn was a bit jaundiced we sat under it. Not sure if it really helped, but it didn’t hurt (and of course made new Mummy feel like she was doing something!).

  • Great advice, though I shouls say that more than “some people” might be helped by light boxes, it’s actually the first recommendation for winter blues/SAD and it works really well for most people.

    Also, other than light boxes, people are really benefited from dawn simulators, also known as light therapy alarm clocks. If you suffer from winter blues you may really want to check out both of these options first.

    You can see the research and studies about the effectiveness of bright light therapy for SAD here: http://www.light-therapy-reviews.net/light-therapy-research-and-studies/

    • My husband suffers from S.A.D. and I have tried the lights but they are only effective if the person is consistent in using them. I on the other-hand am not a morning person. I do get off work at 2AM so my body tends to want to stay up and sleep late even on vacations and days off. I have considered the light therapy alarm clock to try to ease my brain into waking and retraining my brain rather than an obnoxious alarm.

      • I have a light therapy alarm clock which creates an artificial dawn fading in from about thirty minutes before the actual alarm goes off.
        It has really helped with my SAD symptoms. My daughter has the same problems and she loves hers too.
        Keep an eye on the discount sites, they seem to get some good offers on these.

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