Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can seem like an impossible journey when you have no motivation. Patient testimony and research have both shown that staying active with hobbies and interests are excellent to prevent the winter blues.

Depression and SAD are psychological problems, and the best way to cure a psychological problem is by changing the way your brain collection of hobbies to beat SAD stimulate your mind and can give you greater pleasure in everyday life.


Books are powerful brain stimulators. Losing yourself in the story takes you out of your head and into another world, helping you forget about your depression and SAD.

In a psychological setting, reading as a form of treatment is called bibliotherapy and has been used for over a hundred years to treat patients with various ailments. Research into bibliotherapy has found that reading can help us increase self-confidence, decrease anxiety, sleep better, and overall, change the way we think.

Read an old classic, a biography on someone who inspires you, or even a non-fiction book about something that interests you. For more book ideas and suggestions, check out Goodreads.


In a clinical setting, bibliotherapy is often used in combination with writing therapy. This form of expression is great for:

  • Getting our thoughts and problems “out of our head”
  • Putting into words things we can’t say aloud
  • Activating different regions of our brain
  • Ending those negative repeating messages we tell ourselves

Sitting down to write can be an intimidating process, but take safety in the fact that no one else has to read your writing but you. Grab a pen and a notebook and just let your thoughts flow. Even if you think you have nothing to write, write about writing! It’s a little writing trick that gets brain in writing mode.

Play an Instrument

Playing an instrument has been clinically shown to:

  • Decrease stress and anxiety
  • Improve creativity and problem solving skills
  • Help us forget about problems and depressing ruminations in our minds

Well that’s great for people who know how to play an instrument, but what about those that don’t? Learning something new is one of the most intimidating tasks to undertake – our natural tendency to avoid failure stops us before we even try.

Buy yourself a $100 – 200 instrument (piano and guitar are easiest to learn) and promptly sign up for lessons. Learning an instrument is much harder as an adult, so a weekly lesson is great motivation. Work with an experienced musician to help you pick out the right instrument and teacher.

Don’t give up after a few weeks! Learning an instrument can take several months (or years). In the end, if the instrument doesn’t work out, you can probably sell it for close to the price you paid.


Overeating, SAD, and depression often go hand-in-hand. By cooking your own food, you become more knowledgeable about what you’re eating while taking control of your diet.

The great thing about cooking is anyone can learn how. You might have failed at making mac n’ cheese once, but you have to move on and try again.

  • Follow the recipe exactly
    • Experiment later once you’re more experienced
  • Find new recipes on websites like Skinnytaste
  • Cook with someone who is experienced
    • Learn how to make your favorite recipe with them

If you don’t have a family to cook for, invite a few people over – they’ll love a free meal.

Like any hobby to treat winter depression and SAD, cooking takes your mind off the negative feelings while organizing your thoughts into a step by step sequence. Order and organization are great habits for treating SAD!


“You can’t help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.”

No matter how bad we think we have it, someone else has it worse. Volunteering at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, adopting a family for Christmas, or delivering food to families in need and senior citizens is a great way to get our mind off depression and open your heart to compassion and giving.


Of course exercise is on the list – it’s on everyone’s for getting happy and healthy! Despite the cliché of recommending exercise as a way to beat depression, studies and formerly depressed patients will tell you that it works.

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a gym membership – there are plenty of alternatives:

  • Work out where you want, when you want with home workout DVDs
    • Beachbody’s T-25 or Turbo Fire are great workouts for everyone and can help you lose weight
  • Walking every day is an easy way to burn calories, help clear your mind, and get rid of the negativity that has been clouding your thoughts lately
  • Local gyms and the YMCA are usually affordable and offer a lot of services to help you get your exercise in
    • Look for free trials
    • Many gyms and YMCA’s offer free personal trainers and child care


Making art has been a therapeutic remedy for thousands of years. Many artists say that their most creative moments happen when they’re depressed, and SAD has had a long history of influencing artists. Art could be drawing, painting, sewing, digital art, photography, or anything else you can think of.

  • Take a class or private lessons at a local art center
  • Buy a canvas and paints to create something on your own
  • Take up photography or download a free graphic design computer program
  • Sewing is extremely therapeutic, practical and affordable

Home Renovation

You’ll notice that the best hobbies for beating SAD are structured, get your brain stimulated, and mostly serve as a distraction from that brooding negative thinking.

Home renovation isn’t just great for warding off depression – it’s a great skill to have, could lead to a lifelong love for home improvement, and increases your independence while saving money. You might not know the first thing about home improvement, but consider these easy projects:

  • Painting a room
  • Replacing trim and floor boards
  • Building a workbench or bookshelf
  • Installing new faucets or updating the bathroom

YouTube is a great place to learn how to do these projects, or you could ask a friend or family member for help.

Take a Class

Learning new skills, actively applying our brains, reading, and writing all change the way we think and function. Remember: We can’t solve a problem without changing the way we think about it.

Taking a class combines many of the hobbies we’ve discussed into one big therapeutic session. Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Maybe you want to get back on track to completing a college degree? A college course doesn’t have to be dull and boring – there are courses on hundreds of interesting subjects like music, art, film, and cooking.

Check your local community college or library for affordable classes in an area you’re interested in.