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6 Things That Help People With Depression During the Winter

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, can occur both in the winter and summer. More commonly though, SAD strikes in the wintertime, when it gets darker earlier and most of the country gets colder. Even if you don’t have SAD, winter can be a tough time to manage depression, especially if the cold weather limits part of your self-care routine, or if “holiday cheer” and family time are hard for you.

To give you some pro-tips and product suggestions that might help you deal with depression in the wintertime, we asked people in our mental health community to share what helps them cope. So snuggle up in a blanket and get some water boiling in that kettle — winter is coming, but there are ways you can cope.

Of course, none of these items of ideas replace mental health treatment but they can complement ongoing mental health treatment if winter is an extra challenging time for you.

1. Blankets (and Other Cozy Things)

“My weighted blanket my aunt made me. It is so amazing and just relieves all stress, tension and sadness. Cuddles with my service dog in training also helps.” — Nicole T.

“Fluffy, super soft warm blankets, and my favorite tea. It’s comfort and can usually soothe me and ease my mind a little, at least for temporary relief from the demons in my mind. Also hoodies. I don’t know what it is about putting on a soft hoodie and pulling the sleeve over my hands.” — Hailey M.

“Think, oversized sweaters. Not like t-shirt material hoodies, but actual sweaters. I just got one that’s like four sizes too large for me and it feels like a weighted blanket. It helps a lot.” — Krystal T.

“A squishmallow. They’re big, soft and perfect for napping on or cuddling. Walgreens sells the giant ones for about $20. It’s just a nice soft companion when the world feels kind of terrible. When I feel too cruddy I give him a squish or take a nap with him as a pillow. It makes a depressive episode just a little less awful.” — Breeanna M.

“My warm blue throw blanket that I wrap up tight in. I call it my Linus blanket. It’s wonderful taking a nap wrapped up in this comforting blanket. It’s been with me and helped me through one depressive episode.” — Kristin D.

Our picks: Gravity Blanket ($249.00)Kellytoy Squishmallow ($17.99).

2. Keeping Warm

“Hot showers followed by my towels on the warm radiator = heaven when you get out of the shower, with good music playing.” — Katy A.

“I use my heating pad to alleviate body aches and tension, mostly in my back. I’m more prone to stretch if I feel warmed up… It’s not a cure-all by any means, but helps soften the edge of depressive episodes.” — Stephanie M.

“Anything warm is extremely helpful for me. My favorite thing is a pair of microwavable aromatherapy booties. They smell amazing and they keep my feet warm, which is important because I’m better at staying positive if I’m warm.” — McKendra A.

paraffin wax spa kit and heat wrap for neck and shoulders

Our picks: This list of 20 heating products.

3. Lights

“SAD full-spectrum lights are kinda the norm in Alaska. Most people have them set to timers to simulate daylight, soak up your UV rays for 10 to 20 minutes while you do the jumble in the paper.” — Naoko H.

“Candles. Their flicking flames soothe me and calm me. Scented ones can be a good idea, although I am careful with that because I am overly sensitive and smells often trigger me (I have PTSD). Sometimes dealing with the memories smells bring back can also be important. — Tiny L.

“To fight the darkness: scented candles, fairy lights, my salt lamp, colored lights everywhere in the room.” — Laura V.

“Lights (especially Christmas lights) help, partly because of the warmth of the glow and the underlying reminder that each light has significance. Also they aren’t too overstimulating in brightness.” — May S.

Our picks: Verilux HappyLight ($29.95), Dailyart Globe String Light ($12.39).

4. Aromatherapy (and Other Things to Smell)

“Anything that produces a nice smell. Lotion, candles, lavender oils… I personally love the mini Christmas-themed Bath & Body Works hand sanitizers.” — Lyssa C.

“Try growing jasmine and honeysuckle. Jasmine keeps spiders away. Honeysuckle is edible. Both smell beautiful…” — James C.

“Aromatherapy with scented candles, bubble bath, Epsom salts, bath bombs and special soaps! Long hot baths with Netflix warm up my soul and distract my mind!” — Brittany G.

“Lavender oil on my feet and chest. The scent is so calming and grounding. Scent has always been really helpful in bringing me back to the present moment. I also put fresh lavender buds in a little satchel and put it in my pillowcase for bedtime.” — Catarina F.

“A product called ‘This Sleep Works’ — a spray for your pillow and a roll on for your pulse points. The only way I manage to sleep!” — Sophie C.

Our picks: Organic Bath Bombs ($14.95), This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray ($27.00).

5. Changing Up Your Environment

“Tending to my 100 houseplants. It’s green inside!” — Cyndi E.

“Incorporating bright colors. Society tells us that our clothes and home decor need to mimic the gloomy colors seen outdoors in winter, but for me, that only intensifies the depression.” — Mikayla M.

Our picks: Lucky Bamboo from FTD ($24.99), California Redwoods Sun-rays and Sky Tapestry from Society6 ($37.39)

6. Staying Active

“I go to the gym. I also do more self-care. Always do something to remain active. Having a network of friends helps me out immensely.” — Abby M.

“My snowboard. It might be unconventional, but getting outside and essentially playing in the snow all geared up, warm and in the sunshine helps me. Sometimes it’s hard to get myself out there, but when you’re flying down a mountain you can’t think about anything else or you’ll fall.” — Adah J.

When I feel like I am slipping into the black hole of depression, I go for a run or punch the punching bag. Also, my adorable two dogs help me out. When I am gloomy they can tell and all day they bring me toys and they cuddle.” –Sam M.

“Yoga! Certain styles get you moving and it’s meditative. Helps put my mind at ease and I feel high on life when I’m finished which usually lasts throughout the week.” — Kate S.

“Volunteer at the local humane society to get some extra love and snuggles from some warm nonjudgmental bodies.” — Annalise E.


Our picks: Find a volunteering opportunity on All for Good (free!), Yoga For Depression from Yoga With Adriene (free!).

Have something that helps your mental health when the seasons change? Let us know in the comments below.