How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) When You PCS to Washington State

glass wet with rain

Every duty station has a reputation. And when it comes to Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor in Washington state, the biggest complaint is (you guessed it) the weather.

Due to the Pacific Ocean’s moist air, the west side of Washington state experiences ample cloud cover and rain, mostly during winter months. So yes, it does rain. A lot. But the Pacific Northwest is stunning, particularly Kitsap County. The lush landscape of evergreen trees, the surrounding Olympic Mountains in all their glory. The dreary months are worth it for the beautiful summer, I promise!

If you need more Washington inspiration, check out our ultimate guide, winter outdoor tips and more.

My family recently PCS’d back to Bangor. And as a Washington native, I was thrilled to move back after five years. We’ve only been here for a month, and the weather has been quite the adjustment afer a long, hot New England summer. I can only imagine what the transition looks like for people coming from Hawaii or Guam.

But Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing, and if you’re new to the area you may experience it for the first time. So we asked more than a dozen military spouses living in Kitsap County, and here were their consisent tips:

Stay Active

blue jeans
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

So you live in Washington now, get used to the rain. Rain doesn’t stop us here. Invest in a good waterproof jacket, rainboot, base layers and gear. Go outside and get fresh air every day, even if it’s just a quick dog walk down the block. Take it one step further and follow the radar and when the rain breaks (which it almost always does), get outside! If you decide to stay inside, still find ways to move or do a quick workout. Move your body and try to energize yourself!


Take Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that helps regulate calcium and phosphorus in the body. It plays a role in maintaining proper bone structure. Vitamin D is found in fish, eggs, and fortified milk, but it’s also made in the skin when exposed to sunlight. During periods of sunlight, vitamin D is stored in fat and then released when sunlight is not available.

Many people who experience SAD have shown low levels of vitamin D, caused by low dietary intake of the vitamin or not enough exposure to sunshine. We found out many military spouses supplement during the fall and winter and take vitamin D. .As always, be sure to consult your doctor for medical advice.


Buy a Happy Lamp

In several studies, light therapy has had beneficial effects on SAD symptoms similar to those of medication. Light therapy involves daily expsoure to bright, artificial light, typically 20-60 minutes each morning in front of a light box. Light boxes produce more light than ordinary indoor lighting, and should help lift your mood.

These lamps have shown they can sometimes even help those with sleep disorders—like insomnia, jet lag, or simply sleeplessness caused by a change in work shift schedules—because light therapy can aid in regulating our natural circadian rhythm, helping us fight fatigue and restlessness. Here’s what we found on Amazon.

How do you combat dreary, fall and winter weather? Comment below!

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