• Mo

Surviving S.A.D

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Article first published in 2018 for Your Living City

Whether we like it or not, summer ended and autumn is here. Autumn is actually not that bad when you think about it, it’s all about brown and orange leaves, pumpkins, spices and hot chocolate (with marshmallows)! However, with the colder weather and the lack of light it is important to listen to your body and prevent the winter depression.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) – yes it is a real thing – basically describes someone who usually has a normal mental health and is going through a period of depression during winter (there are cases in the summer as well). The symptoms are numerous: mood swings, sleep problems, anxiety and even sometimes, suicidal thoughts!

After 5 winters in Stockholm, trust me, you quickly learn to develop some survival skills.

  • Eat colors: if the day is grey, at least put some colors on your plate! It’s no secret that fruits and vegetables will bring you lots of the vitamins and nutrients much needed in this season. Some of the fruits we love such as raspberries or strawberries are not really winter fruits, but you can get them frozen for your morning smoothie for example and still get all their vitamins! (Del from Del’s Cooking Twist who lived in Stockholm 6 years and now moved on to Chicago’s winter has delicious smoothie recipes among other things!). It’s also the perfect time to discover new seasonal fruits and veggies such as parsnips or Jerusalem artichokes. If you spend more time inside it’s the perfect opportunity to have fun in the kitchen and experiment! Personal favourites in my kitchen when it starts getting cold:


Lemon: a cup of hot water (not boiling) with lemon every morning before breakfast will cleanse your body from toxins. It is known for preventing kidney stones, help the digestive system and even help with weight loss.

Ginger: a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, ginger is known to have a positive effect on your stomach among other things.

Honey: honey is a great substitute for sugar in your tea and even cake recipes. It is full of antioxidants that will boost your immune system, has antiseptic properties, and is a stomach soother. Fructose will give you energy, it is also recommended for sore throats and some researches shows it is even preventing cancers.

The must: ginger, lemon and honey in hot water, a good way to fight the winter cold!


  • Wear colours! Great tip from Karen, our content producer at Your Living City who is originally from Mexico, but has been surviving several Swedish winters “I find myself wearing colours more often when it’s grey, totally opposite to the Swedish tradition, which prefers black with black on black. I do it so much that my boyfriend says that my outfits are too summery!”

  • Keep moving: the colder it gets the less we are tempted to get moving. It’s understandable but no good! We should continue with our working-out routine or implement new ways to move both for the sake of the body and of the mind. If you are brave enough, just dress the part and go out, making sure to spend some extra time warming up and stretching properly. If you do not want to be outside there is always the pool (and sauna afterwards!), the gym or just the practice of yoga at home, there are plenty of really good and free tutorial videos online and a mat costs very little. Try and see winter as a training period for all your spring and summer goals!

  • Light: make sure you go outside every chance you have when the sun is out, your body needs light and it will help improve your mood. Your body desperately needs the vitamin D (essential for the absorption of calcium, magnesium and iron among other things). If there’s not enough light outside, put the vitamin D on your plate, you will find some in fishes like tuna and salmon, in egg yolk and cheese or beef liver. If you are vegan, mushrooms are your new best friends and don’t hesitate to take some supplements. Brewer’s yeast and magnesium can also help with stronger hair and nails, better skin, fatigue, muscular pains. Finally, you can also invest in a special “daylight” lamp.

  • Take care of yourself: sometimes when it’s dark and cold outside all you want to do is stay in your pj’s the whole day. Yes, that’s nice for a little while, but you will find you have much more positive energy in the long run if every now and then you take a nice bath, put on a nice outfit, maybe try a new hairdo, find yourself looking good in the mirror… Just take care of yourself!

  • Sleep: that’s a good advice all year long; but even more relevant in winter. Make sure to get enough sleep so you are stronger to resist any little booboo. Take power naps if needed! Scientists say naps are good for problem solving, memory, logical reasoning, reaction time, mood, stress level and even weight management!

  • Wash your hands: inevitably people around you will get sick, make sure you wash your hands a little more often than usual to prevent spreading the germs!

  • Stay positive! Keep going out, planning fun stuff, meeting friends, even though all you want to do is crawl under a blanket and order Chinese take-out. Make sure you still have a social life – it will help you get through the winter much faster! And keep in mind that after the very cold and dark times comes the beautiful spring and the never-ending days of summer!


Images: Image Bank Sweden, Morgane Oléron



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