Lighten Up

Finding sunshine in a wintry Minnesota day isn’t always easy. But it is possible to find bright spots.

We’ve reached it: The midwinter I-can’t-take-it-anymore time. When February hits, we start to believe that life is uphill both ways in the snow. The science community calls this feeling Seasonal Affective Disorder. The lack of sun makes us lethargic, cranky, and craving carbs. But acupuncturist Alexander Do,  of the Mayo Clinic, reminds us that winter is not all bad: “There is a tendency to reflect inwardly and conserve energy, in order to prepare for the spring when energy is once again full and abundant.” Remember: Balance is key. Here, some ways to counteract SAD. If you are struggling with depression, though, please see a doctor.


Make Scents

“Citrus oils are strongly associated with sunshine,” says Robin Block, co-founder of Wyndmere Naturals. “Grapefruit, orange, bergamot—they are like summer. Combine them with calming lavender.” Block suggests mixing water and a few drops of oil in a spray bottle and spritzing whenever necessary to give your limbic system—the emotional center—a vacation. “Scents cause a physiological action in our brains and affect moods,” she says. Find your scent at

Get to the Point

“There is evidence that acupuncture causes beneficial changes in brain chemistry,” says Alexander Do, a Mayo Clinic acupuncturist. “Treatment results in neurochemical responses that increase dopamine levels, which gives us our ‘get up and go.’” Do says most patients see “remarkable improvement” within a few appointments. “There are sensations of mild tingling, numbness, traveling warmth, or heaviness,” he says. “This sensation is known as ‘attaining qi.’ Acupuncture boosts serotonin, so most people find it very relaxing and uplifting.”

Look at the Bright Side

It seems silly to think you can turn on a light to improve your mood, but ’tis true: Health professionals suggest an exposure of 10,000 lux for a half-hour each day. Talk to your healthcare provider before embarking on a treatment, but no prescription is needed. According to the Mayo Clinic, the light box needs to have been made specifically to treat SAD or there may be no benefit. 

Think About It

Don’t dwell on bad moods, but rather meditate them away, preferably while exercising. According to the Mayo Clinic, preliminary research on Tai Chi indicates that this “meditation in motion” might relieve anxiety and depression. For more information about practicing Tai Chi, check out

Submerge the Feeling

Heat things up at Fusion Lifespa. First, polish up in a rain shower, then soak away worries in a deep tub outfitted with lights (called chromatherapy). Add a massage to really get endorphins going.