The Best Sunny, Happy Products for Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Our seemingly collective winter blues is better known as Seasonal Affective Disorder—and luckily there are ways to help alleviate it.

Jan 24 2022, 9:22pm

There are two different kinds of people during the winter: those who hit the slopes—and the serotonin—and those who discover that they are, in fact, the doomed love child of Joni Mitchell and Jeff Buckley. If you also find yourself longing for a river to skate away on, there might be something to blame besides your own insatiable heart. As it turns out, some of us are more like plants than others: We need the sun for our emotional wellbeing. 


Our seemingly collective winter blues is better known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, and is believed to be caused by the unholy lack of sunlight during the colder months of the year. But, unlike our ancient ancestors, who were at the complete mercy of our star and its path across the sky, we don’t have to wait for the Earth to revolve around the sun for our mood to boost. Instead, we can shop online! 

Of course, money can’t buy happiness—we know that. But, we’ve been around long enough to know that all rules have exceptions, and some of these exceptions include sun lamps, essential oil diffusers, and more shoppable self-care items. While scientific studies about seasonal affective disorder are limited, the demand for mood-boosting remedies in the colder months is very real, whether their goal is to simulate sunlight or to offer a meditative release from the gray slush outside. So, unwrap yourself from your blanket cocoon, open the curtains, and peruse this collection of some of our favorite SAD-combating products. 

Make your own sun

Light therapy is one of the best treatments for SAD, according to the good folks at the Mayo Clinic. Just by basking in the glory of this affordable lamp that mimics natural light, the brain chemicals that rule your mood can start changing for the better. This affordable, top-rated light therapy lamp is highly effective for those with seasonal depression, according to tons of satisfied buyers. If you want something a bit less 2001: A Space Odyssey and a bit more mid-century modern (and you're willing to up your budget), there’s also this funky, geometric option

Light Therapy Lamp

$29.99$25.99 at Amazon

Ease into the day

Who wants to get out of bed when the world is greeting you with literal (and perhaps figurative) darkness? Not me. The Hatch Restore is a sunrise alarm clock that gently wakes you with gradual light that evokes the morning sun. It’s cozy and comforting—but there’s more to it than that. The experience helps set your circadian rhythm so you feel well-rested and refreshed, even in the depths of winter. 

Restore - Smart Sleep Assistant

$129.99 at Hatch

Not your old Flintstones vitamins

Where there’s not enough sun, there’s not enough vitamin D. Taking a supplement is an easy way to help correct a vitamin D deficiency—which could be the source of your fatigue or mood changes. These Mindbodygreen supplements are made with organic oils, and in addition to helping bring your vitamin levels back up to balance, they also help promote overall immune health. 

Vitamin D3 Potency+

$25 at mindbodygreen

Journal it

If you’ve ever been to therapy, listened to Oprah, or talked to your vegan friend who does a lot of yoga, you’ve probably heard about the wonders of having a “gratitude practice. If the words trigger your cat-like eye-rolling reflexes, I see you. But don’t knock it ‘til you try it: This prompt-heavy mindset journal is a helpful way to boost your spirits for newbies and seasoned blessings-counters alike. 

Alexandra Kozma
Morning Mindset: A Daily Journal

$13.83 at Amazon

Aromatherapy, but make it home decor

If I were to assess my life and make a list of the Things I Never Knew I Needed But Desperately Did, the only thing beating this Vitruvi essential oil diffuser for first place would be “less eyeliner during my goth phase.” Last year, someone gave me this beautiful stone diffuser—which doubles as an art piece—for my birthday, and my apartment instantaneously transformed into a zen sanctuary. Vitruvi has plenty of essential oils for you to choose from, and the Uplift Kit is a great place to start. Plus, numerous studies have shown that aromatherapy has real-world benefits that can include reduced anxiety, better quality of sleep, and even pain relief

Terracotta Stone Diffuser
$120 at SSENSE

$119 at Vitruvi

It’s tea time

Nourish, Glimmer, and Deep Sleep? Pour me a cup of all three, please. Harney & Sons makes your morning tea ritual a necessity, thanks to the brand’s flavorful blends of top-notch ingredients. See Nourish’s Chaga mushroom, coconut, and spices blend, for example. The teas in this Wellness Trio gift set were carefully selected for their positive influence on your mind, body, and spirit—perfect for the cold-weather blues. 

Harney & Sons
Wellness Trio Gift

$54.95 at Harney & Sons

Namaste, yogis

Yoga’s double-whammy dose of exercise and meditation makes it the perfect hobby to pick up mid-SAD season. This bundle comes with everything you need to get started if you’re new to yoga (or if you’re stocking up your home gym). See you in downward dog!

Clever Yoga
Complete Beginners 7-Piece Yoga Kit

$89.99$79.99 at Amazon

Meditation 101

Meditating can be a great way to clear your head and reset during the winter, and while I’m definitely guilty of calling everything from a pair of cowboy boots to a butternut squash soup recipe “life-changing,” I leave my penchant for exaggerating behind when I say that Turning the Mind Into an Ally is a life-changing book. It demystifies meditation, making both the practice (and your own mind) more approachable than you’ve ever thought possible. 

Sakyong Mipham
Turning the Mind Into an Ally

$16.99 at Amazon

Music is medicine

Music is a powerful drug. Queue the right playlist and you can feel your heart slowly uncurl from the fetal position. To really immerse yourself in your mellow-seventies-induced Better Mood, you need the right audio gear, like these ultra-comfy noise-canceling headphones from Bose. Or, you can turn your home into an audio safe haven with some pro-level speakers

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

$399.00$379 at Amazon

Adopt a plant

Plant parenting gives you the warm fuzzies of caring for another living thing minus all the crying, barking, or defecating. I’m sold! This perfect pink partner will distract you from dooming and glooming even if you don’t already have a green thumb. It only needs to be watered every one or two weeks, too, which makes it the perfect plant for absent-minded apartment-dwellers. 

The Sill
Bromeliad Antonio Pink

$55 at The Sill

Food for thought

Home of the aforementioned life-changing butternut squash soup recipe, The Kripalu Kitchen: Nourishing Food for Body and Soul is full of recipes that revitalize, detox, and just plain delight. The book sources its magic from Ayurvedic insights on balance, diet, and energy—all of which we definitely need this winter. 

Jeremy Rock Smith
The Kripalu Kitchen: Nourishing Food for Body and Soul

$19.59 at Amazon

Only, two more months until spring, people—we got this.

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