Feeling SAD? Beat the Blues!

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered by the absence of light during winter’s gray days and long nights, which causes your body to produce less of the “feel good hormone,” serotonin, and more of the “dark hormone,” melatonin. An excess of melatonin can cause sleepiness and other side effects—and it can make the chilly months miserable. If you’re suffering from SAD, try these tricks to feel better fast:

Plan a passel of pleasant things that’ll get you out of the house. If at all possible, take your annual vacation in the winter, and head straight for the sun. But don’t stop at that. Make firm commitments with family and friends to attend plays or concerts, go on day or weekend trips, or host birthday parties or game nights. With fun times to look forward to, you’ll breeze through the blue days like a ray of sunshine.

Shake your booty—and lose those dark clouds hanging over your head. If you’re not up to joining winter sports lovers on the slopes, simply take a brisk walk around your neighborhood instead, or head for an indoor skating rink or your local fitness center. Getting 30 minutes of exercise each day, in whatever form you like (even dancing in your living room) will keep your system pumping out endorphins that will help you battle the blahs of a long, cold, dark winter.

Orange essential oil has an almost magical knack for lifting low spirits. So add a few drops of it to your favorite hand and body lotions, or fill a plastic spray bottle with water and a few drops of orange oil, and spritz the air in your home or office. (Whatever you do, never use orange—or any other—essential oil directly on your skin. It can be very irritating.)

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