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Chase away the Blues

If you get one thing out of today’s post, let it be this:

Eat more chocolate.


Raw Chocolate Cream Pie

People sometimes say to me, “Katie, you are like the happiest person I’ve ever met.” And it’s true: I am a happy person, 9 times out of 10. But I don’t always live up to my “happiest girl in the world” reputation. Why exactly does our society tell us it’s shameful to feel sad, anyway? Especially in the winter, there are sometimes days where I’m a far cry from my usual happy, energetic self. On these days, I have to drag myself to write a blog post, drag myself to make a meal, drag myself to meet friends or get to class… or even to get out of my pajamas!

Although my symptoms are nowhere near strong enough or frequent enough to qualify me for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), it’s still no fun to feel the winter blues. And if I—a normally exuberant, loving-life girl—sometimes feel sluggish and sad, I know I can’t be the only one. So I thought I’d put together a list of ways I motivate myself, or cheer myself up, when sadness pays an unexpected visit:


1.   Exercise!

Be sure to keep up with an exercise routine. This is a big one. Some days, when says “Cloudy and feels like 3, with 28mph winds,” I do not want to go outside. But I know that lounging around in my pjs all day, as nice as it sounds in principle, will actually make me feel worse in the long run. So I bundle up and get my butt out there.

If, where you live, winters are way too cold for outdoor activity, consider joining a gym or investing in a workout dvd. It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you do, as long as you’re doing something.

2.   Eat Healthy Foods

Nutrient deficiencies can cause all kinds of mood issues, so the best way to combat this is to eat a variety of healthy foods, making sure to get the recommended daily veggie servings. As an added bonus, healthy-eating will lower your risk of catching a winter cold. And you won’t feel sluggish from too much sugar.  Be sure, however, to eat enough calories, as starving yourself can also make you feel sluggish (and irritable!). Always have a good breakfast:

strawberry vegan greek yogurt

Vegan Strawberry Cream

3. Take a shower in the morning

For me, a lot of the SAD-type symptoms I feel aren’t actual sadness, but simply tiredness or lack of energy. Taking a morning shower helps to wake me up. I also feel more energized when I dress up and put on make-up than when I wear sweats and a ponytail. I’m not saying you should feel the need to wear make-up for others, but sometimes dressing up can make you feel good, even if you never leave the house.

4. Get enough Sleep… but not too much

And be sure to stick to a schedule (just like with the exercising, above). In other words, try and go to sleep and get up around the same time each day.

5.   Go Outside

According to some studies, up to 75% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, which is scary because this vitamin is also known as the “happiness” vitamin. A deficiency can cause mood swings or depression. The good news is that all you need to do is get about 10 minutes of direct sunlight (without sunscreen) per day.

Also, keep your shade up during the day, and if you live somewhere that doesn’t get much sun, think about getting a full spectrum lamp or light box.

6.   Friends with Benefits

On cold, rainy days, it can be seriously tempting to cancel plans with friends, and stay home instead. Resist! My mood is so much brighter when I’m laughing with friends than when I’m lonely at home. If friends aren’t available, the radio makes a suitable stand-in. Singing at the top of one’s lungs is a must. No embarrassment; you’re alone, after all. And don’t forget your friendly animal companions. Playing with a pet does wonders for lifting one’s spirits. Don’t have a pet? Adopt!

7.  Count your Blessings

Sounds cliche, but it really works. Say them out loud if you wish. Or write them down for tangible evidence. Try to make the list as long as you can, and include even little, seemingly-silly things for which you are thankful. Also, volunteer to help others who are less fortunate. It’ll highlight just how lucky you are, and you’ll feel good helping others.

8. The Real Secret to Happiness

Chocolate!! It tastes good, releases endorphins, and there’s now scientific evidence that dark chocolate contains flavonoids and antioxidants… Translation? It’s healthy, people! Indulge (in moderation), and feel no guilt. Methinks that’s why I’m usually so happy—it’s thanks to all the chocolate I consume Smile.

cookie dough dip

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Dip

Question of the Day:
How do YOU chase away the blues?

And why is there such a stigma, in society, against feeling sad? Humans aren’t supposed to be happy all the time; it’d be creepily un-normal!

Published on January 14, 2011

Meet Katie

Chocolate Covered Katie is one of the top 25 food websites in America, and Katie has been 
featured on The 
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ABC's 5 O’Clock News. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating dessert every single day.

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  1. anonymous says

    Dear Katie,

    Once again, thank you so much for having the courage to share something so personal. I wish I were as brave as you… Do I think there’s a stigma against feeling sad? Yes, so much that I’m not comfortable leaving this comment under my blog name.

    I’ve suffered from depression off and on for a while now, and reading your post really has helped me. No, it’s not going to cure me, but I’m bookmarking this page and am planning to come back to it every day and read the list and try to cognitively engage in some of your advice. This is a great list. Really, thank you so much. 🙂

  2. Albizia says

    Nobody can feel happy all the time. Even an energetic and vibrant girl like you obviously. But in the end it’s not that hard to do something that makes you feel better, right? Like dancing around like a mad woman when I hear a song I love on the radio or preparing some scrumptious sweet treat like the raw brownie batter dessert I mentioned a few days ago (if you are still interested, it’s on my blog). Little things can do wonders 🙂 .

    Have a really happy day, Katie!

  3. kay says

    This was a really great post, Katie. I completely agree that the cold weather affects my mood/ desire to do things. If I’m cold, I actually find running outside warms me up by the time I’m home and showered. I like working out in the morning then showering so that I’m energized to make plans for the rest of the day, and don’t have an excuse to miss out doing things with friends (who are just rolling out of bed by noon). I cook and bake and blast some good music, as I find it very calming. I think a balanced day for me involves some alone time, time spent with friends and/or family, a bit of exercise, nourishing food, and yes chocolate or another treat!

  4. abby says

    thank you, katie, for this! as you know, i’ve suffered from severe depression going along with my eating disorder. some of the things you mentioned helped me, but some of them i never even thought of!
    and thanks for admitting you sometimes get depressed or unmotivated too. sometimes i am so jealous, thinking “how is she always energetic, running even when it’s cold etc?” it’s comforting to know you struggle with feeling tired or unmotivated too. i always want to curl up and sleep when it’s cold. stupid SAD!

  5. Stephanie says

    I wrote a post today about some debbie downer stuff that happened this week despite the fact that I’m about 88% upbeat and HAPPY all the time. Your tips were spot-on.

  6. Kathleen says

    On days I don’t exercise, I do feel more tired, depressed, lack of energy. I know that when I work out, I feel so empowered — like I can take on the world. It is such a mood booster.

    No, you’re not alone — I get really excited too when I hear I song I know. 😉


  7. dragonmamma/naomi says

    I almost choked on my blueberries when I got to #6.

    Friends with benefits:
    Two friends who have a sexual realtionship without being emotionally involved. Typically two good friends who have casual sex without a monogomous relationship or any kind of commitment.

    I’m pretty sure that’s not what you meant, but you might want to be careful about using that phrase in public!

  8. Mia says

    I am so happy you wrote this post. Like yesterday I had a major meltdown and I didn’t know why. I was just crying and feeling hopeless and didn’t know how I was going to make it through this semester without falling apart. Your list is so inspiring! Just know you’re not the only one going through the winter blues and be thankful you’re not in Michigan like me lol! Fortunately, I feel a lot better now. I just had some coffee and a chocolate peanut single lady muffin (peanut flour and cocoa powder), so that could be why. lol

    • abby says

      *hugs*!!! i have meltdowns a lot. and then i feel so bad afterwards, because really i am so blessed to have a warm home and family and friends. but sometimes things feel really hopeless, and i don’t know why. just know you’re not the only one, either!

      • Mia says

        Aww *hugs*. Thank you. You’re absolutely right about counting your blessings. That will make a WORLD of difference when you think you’ve hit rock bottom.

  9. Liz @ Tip Top Shape says

    I completely agree that putting on some make-up and looking nice can boost your mood!! It also is a great confidence booster. This may sound weird, but whenever I have exams, I always dress nice. That way, even if the test goes poorly, at least I looked good doin’ it 🙂

    • Valerie says

      So many people look down on makeup-wearers or girls who like to get dolled up, and personally I don’t understand why. I dress up every day, even if no one but my kids will see me, because it makes ME feel good :).

  10. Emily says

    This is awesome! I have a friend who is suffering with depression, and I never know how to help her. I’m going to suggest maybe we go to a nursing home or soup kitchen together and help out. And I’ll also show her this post in case she can get some inspiration from it. I always feel so awful that she’s so sad :(.

  11. Heather says

    I can definitely get the winter blues around here. Mostly because we rarely get any sun during our winters and the sky is always a nasty looking gray color. I definitely agree with working out to boost spirits and baking always helps me too!

    I hate the stigma that comes with depression. Everything in this world is about balance. You can’t go around happy go lucky ALL the time!

  12. [email protected] says

    I’m feeling a little winter bluesy myself these days. Cuddling with my pups is a definite must, and super hot showers make me feel great too. And I *totally* get excited when I hear a song I know all the words to too!! 🙂

  13. Lisa @ Thrive Style says

    Great list! It’s interesting—I think this goes right along with my strategy of having all those things in place and practicing the tips you gave when I feel great…so when I feel blah it’s pretty easy to do the things that will help!

  14. Jennifer JCD says

    Another super great post! Your cures for winter blues are excellent!

    Living up North, the cold and darkness really gets to me in winter too. Living up here means there’s no possible way to get a proper dose of Vitamin D from the sun, even if you stayed out all day (and froze your toes off), so we take a supplement.

    Other cheer-you-up winter activities on my agenda include:
    – funny movies (not every day, but they definitely come off the shelf more often in winter, particularly weekends)
    – baking (or otherwise making yummy food in the kitchen)
    – hobbies (always keep your mind active by doing something, even if it’s drawing or reading, it will be heaps better on your brain than mindless TV.)

  15. Allison @ Happy Tales says

    Absolutely LOVE. THIS. POST. In fact, I could have written in myself… and it seems like I almost did! I blogged today about how I deal with the tragedies I’ve been through in my life, and how I’ve gotten through them with running instead of any medication.

    Your list is completely on par. And I can tooootally relate… I loooove when a song comes on and I know all the words to it!

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      Running and chocolate = way better than Prozac, right? And cheaper too!!
      (That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with Prozac… I’m not Tom Cruise, and I believe that medicine CAN be helpful. But so can chocolate ;).)

  16. Julia (The Veggie Side) says

    Exercise usually cheers me up. Well, except for yesterday. It was freezing cold & I got an earache, that made me pretty sad. 🙁 Baking, yoga, family…all make me happy! Good subject. I’m a very positive person but I do have my “sad” moments. (Especially when my ear is KILLING me.) 🙂

  17. Caitlin (EatFeats) says

    I like to write a +Positive List!+ (YES that is how one must spell and punctuate the phrase) of all the wonderful, slightly wonderful, or even tolerable parts of life. It REALLY helps, and the practice has seen me through many less-than-ideal moments.

  18. Leslie says

    When I was in high school, I was very depressed every winter, but it would go away when the weather warmed up. I KNEW I needed to get to a warm climate, so that was my #1 criteria for college searches. I ended up in Florida and was happy as one of the clams on the beaches I got to go to even in winter ;).

  19. Disturbed says

    I have a lot of problems with depression, and thus I have tried an array of things to make me mood higher-which makes many things easier on me. The main thing I have found that helps me is the simple act of cooking. Not eating exactly, but just cooking. Cooking for other people. Trying wonderful new recipes. It has always been one of those things that just makes me happy. Especially recipes that take a lot of concentration, or are very time consuming and have several parts.
    The other thing is reading. When I am reading nothing matters, and it puts me into a good mood with ease. I go into my own little world, and just immerse myself into the book.

    • Melissa says

      +1 on the reading.

      A hot cuppa, a hot bath, maybe a little snack and a good book is a wonderful wonderful thing. (Yes, I read, eat AND drink tea in the tub! I’m a savage.)

  20. Teresa says

    Katie this is one of the best posts I have read. Thank you so much for addressing this topic and for bravely even embracing occasional depression (or rather stray from happiness). One of the reasons depression becomes chronic and problematic is because it coincides with loneliness and that feeling like you’re the only one with these feelings. I think people are afraid to admit these feeling because they’re embarrassed or afraid, when in reality we all have these days. So again, I thank you for discussing this and pointing out this it is a “natural” human emotion that is really inherent. I guess it’s a bit comforting to know we all suffer from this. I love all of your suggestions and would say that surrounding yourself by people (be they friends or strangers) is one of the best cures, because hermiting yourself only feeds the depression. Also wanted to add something that I recently learned at work about Goji Berries. They are actually known as the “happy berry,” and have done experiments treating treating depression with goji berries. I never knew this and thought it was pretty cool!

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      Thanks, Teresa! And thanks for the link, too. I think the catch-22 is horrible: people don’t want to talk about depression, so they feel alone. Feeling alone makes them more depressed… it’s a cycle that can only be broken if we actually talk about it and say: Guess what; it’s OK to be sad!

  21. Sarahishealthy says

    Although I’ve never had depression per se, I can definitely relate to the SAD symptoms, especially in terms of feeling lazy and not wanting to hang out with friends, etc. But you’re right, I do feel much better if I get up and take a shower and fight the urge to lounge in my sweats all day, watching movies. If only that would make me feel better, since it’s ALL my body tells me I want to do when it’s cold and dreary!

  22. Molly @ MollyRunsFresh says

    Running is an instant mood booster for me! It’s insane how people can actually tell if I haven’t run yet today. I tend to be a bit grouchy and fatigued. After a run, I’m energized (plus showered and more attractive) therefore in a better mood. I also enjoy having a “me” day, where I get a mani-pedi. Having french-tipped nails makes me feel girly and flirty which = instant mood booster. Oh yah, and how could I forget nibbling on squares of unsweetened chocolate. The bitter stuff makes me happy!

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      Haha we’d make great real-life friends! Sometimes my mom is my best motivation. She’s like, “PLEASE go for a run, Katie!” Lol she knows I’m a much nicer person after running… like some people with coffee :).

  23. Lauren @ WWoB says

    KATIE this is one of my FAVORITE posts to date! This is all such good, true advice, and I try to do a lot of the exact same things! In addition, to cheer up I often… read the news, read books, bake, swim or lift weights, call mama, watch some trashy tv…
    Have a lovely weekend!

  24. ~Jessica~ says

    Goodness, I cannot verbalise how much this post means to me. Honestly, I always held you up as someone too perfect to be real, so much so that I beat myself up over the inability to emulate your kindness, unfailing commitment to veganism, and perpetually upbeat nature. I have an inadequacy complex and none of this was your fault (obviously!) but I almost felt afriad to comment most of the time because I didn’t want to bring my negative presence to your blog.

    I suffer from bouts of mania and depression and the latter is exactly like the description of your SAD, but augmented by periods of suicidal thoughts and binge eating. I empathise so much with everything you wrote and agree with the concept that exercise and nutrition play a huge part in wellness, both mental and physical.

    What struck me most was your bravery in speaking out that, while these techniques are wonderful, it’s OKAY to be upset. I think the ‘fake it till you make it’ phiilosphy has a lot to answer for and hearing your refreshing words genuinely made me hate myself a little less.

    Thank you so much.


  25. Jos says

    Can’t agree more with #1 – exercise! 😀 I wasn’t an exercise type of person before and I always had bad mood/temper and felt down. After I started exercising regularly (pretty much everyday but only short time 15-30 mins max) I feel more energized and positive! Even though I have to get up at 4:30-5:00 am everyday, I don’t feel sleepy during daytime.!

  26. Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun!) says

    You should hang out with some philosophy students and artists. They respect a good bout of depression. 🙂

  27. thefruitpursuit (Sabine) says

    Great post Katie, very honest! I am very much affected by the weather and the cold too but most times it’s ok. I have a friend though who gets actual depression in the winter and it was so sad to ehar her talk about her crying herself to sleep every night… and the docs just wanted to get her on meds :s. I suggested she try light therapy first.

    x sabine

  28. Embodying Freedom says

    Everyone should be allowed to be sad when they need to sometimes. Stifling those emotions usually makes them harder to address.

    As for me, I usually go on a walk (even if it’s freezing–it clears my head!), listen to music, watch something funny, or call a friend. Writing or doing a hobby really helps too. Anything that makes you happy even when you’re not particularly sad!

  29. Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day says

    these are all great tips.

    Taking my dog for a good walk does wonders to get me out of a funk. It’s difficult now though because of the cold. She hates it!

  30. Kayla (Little Miss Healthify) says

    I love to bake for people when I’m in a bad mood, it always cheers me up. Doing service, forgetting yourself and helping others is an excellent way to combat depression.

    Also, I like to make sure I’m eating enough veggies, I always feel happier when I eat my vegetables! 🙂

  31. Gill (snaxandthecity) says

    Aww what a lovely post!

    I also have days like that Katie, for sure (and especially in winter)! I totally agree with you about doing exercise. It always helps me think, gets the blood pumping and also makes me feel that I’ve made an effort to get out of my slump!

    What I find helps a lot is if you ALLOW yourself to feel like that – don’t beat yourself up, don’t force yourself to be fake-happy (fappy!?) and just acknowledge that you feel a bit down. Then, it’s like a craving – once you’ve acknowledged it, it sometimes goes away all by itself! I think beating oneself up about being ‘sad’ is a vicious cycle.

    Chocolate, of course, is the cure for most things.


      • Gill (snaxandthecity) says

        Exactly! And it just makes me feel frustrated when everyone’s like “buck up”! I think being ‘allowed’ (both allowing yourself and surrounding yourself with people who will allow you) to feel a bit crappy is really important – otherwise I tend to feel like I”m trying to be superhuman, and I’m definitely not that!
        Great post 🙂

  32. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) says

    Thanks Katie for sharing something personal like this with everyone! Major props for your honesty and forth-coming prose in your post.

    I don’t know anyone alive who doesnt get a little…blah…in the winter from time to time. It’s cold, dark, dreary and I totally agree that making sure you do things to combat that are key.

    I love your list. Other things on my list
    Having a sense of humor in dealing with day to day crappy stuff. Just realizing this too shall pass and trying to laugh about it.
    And having great friends/spouse/loved ones who you can vent to!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  33. Laura says

    I think it’s great that you’re venturing near this topic at all, but I just think maybe you have to be a bit careful when using the word Depression. Capital D Depression, which is poles apart from SAD. I don’t want to undermine the effects of SAD at all or the right of anyone to feel sad, angry or just blue at any time for any reason, but until (and I hope you never do) experience clinical depression, it’s impossible to understand. I was an overall happy girl until I was 22 and then, with no initial trigger, I ended up clinically depressed. For about a year and a half, I literally didn’t smile once, let alone laugh. I lost all interest in the things that had previously given me pleasure, which is one of the hardest aspects of depression, and I could go for weeks barely talking to anyone. You don’t have the motivation or energy to do anything, talk to anyone, and the future seems nothing but bleak. You almost aren’t there anymore, it’s like existing in a black hole, where you can’t imagine being even a little bit happy or excited about anything ever again. This past year, I’ve been able to crawl pretty darn far out of that hole and am finding my real personality again, but while all of the above are great tips in general and certainly for SAD or everyday stress or the blues, they would be a drop in the ocean and sometimes not even an option for severely depressed people. I don’t want to sound critical, I really do understand the good intentions behind the post, I just think “Ways to Beat Depression” is maybe not the best title? “Ways to Beat the Blues”, yes, “Ways to Fight SAD”, definitely. Capital D Depression, no. Sorry to get super serious, but when a person, despite having everything to live for and being surrounded by the most loving family and friends, can still have lost themselves so much that they would contemplate suicide, exercise and chocolate aren’t really the most effective idea. For cases of actual depression, I really think there is only one option and that’s seek professional help. Medication is not always necessary; I honestly think counseling is ALWAYS necessary. Again, I don’t want to be overly sensitive or undermine the topic in general, I just think it’s important to differentiate. 🙂 It’s such a hot button topic for me that it’s no longer something I can take lightly.

    • Kate says

      I really felt the same way reading the post, also from a place of personal experience. Depression really can’t be fought by eating healthy, exercising, etc., because without help you just cannot do those things if you are depressed. And it’s not a simple motivational issue like it may be for those who are not clinically depressed. This post was so well-intentioned and I love it as a discussion of SADNESS. As a discussion about DEPRESSION, though, it really upset me because it supports the stigmatized and inaccurate perception that you can control depression on your own and if you are depressed you are just being a downer or lazy.

      • Laura says

        “This post was so well-intentioned and I love it as a discussion of SADNESS.”

        Exactly. That sums it up so well. I’m by no means trying to undermine the detrimental effects of feeling sad, feeling blue or going through a rough period, but depression is not about feeling sad or feeling unmotivated to get up, shower, exercise, eat right etc. Those are often symptomatic results of the illness, but it IS a mental illness and it’s an absolutely soul-destroying, personality-leaching experience to have to go through. Sometimes a clinically depressed person would be absolutely incapable of doing any of the above things and as awesome and well-intentioned as people like yourself are with suggestions like that (and I understand why family and friends make them, because if you have no personal experience of depression or dealing with truly depressed people, you want to try any and every little thing that you can do to try to help a suffering loved one), they often just make them feel worse. Serious kudos to you, Katie, for trying to emphasize the “nobody is perfect, every emotion is valid, and we’re all allowed to feel sad” fact and for listing things that could well pick you up from a bad day, but yes, not a depression discussion.

        • Maria says

          As someone who HAS suffered from depression, and still does, I have to disagree and say that I found this post to be very helpful and not at all perpetuating a stereotype against depression. In fact, the only stereotype it’s fighting is the one that Katie mentioned that society tells us it’s weak to show anything but “always happy” women all the time. I DO suffer from depression, and I DO see someone for it, but still I copied this list to print out and look to for help, because it really does have some good ideas that even people with real depression can benefit from. So Katie, please know that your post did help at least one person who has real depression. Yeah, I have a lot going for me and often feel sad anyway and chocolate wouldn’t help. But I can TRY to cognitively make changes in my life to stay in a routine and cheer myself up, and maybe it won’t cure me, but it sure couldn’t hurt.

      • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

        I definitely did NOT mean to imply I think depression can be cured on one’s own nor that people with depression are lazy. I 100% believe that it is a true sickness and should be treated with care. But part of that means people need to speak out and say that it’s OK to feel sad. It doesn’t make you a bad person.

      • bitt says

        As I mentioned below, I have used some of these techiniques to prevent myself for spiraling into a deeper depression. But if these aren’t enough, then it’s a clue to get more serious tools and some professional help. Having suffered from depression for decades, I get that you can’t control it 100%, but you can recognize triggers and change your environment to help cope. I am so sorry you suffer from depression, it really sucks. I get what it’s like to be treated poorly, and that’s why a lot of people choose to cover it up like I have at times.

      • Amanda says

        Kate, please read my argument a few comments below. I disagree completely with your last statement. I think that people like me are the opposite of lazy BECAUSE we’re controlling depression on our own.

      • Ilana says

        I have to disagree with you that depression cannot be fought by healthy eating, exercising, etc. I suffered from severe depression for nearly ten years, from the age of twelve. By the time I was 22, I was so far gone that I’d absolutely severed every connection I’d made in the world, my life was an endless black hole, and I literally could not get out of bed most days. And for me, counselling and professional help were not options, because I’d had traumatizing experiences with them in my youth and had (have) serious fear of doctors interfering in my life at all. No one in my life knew, I’d cut out every single one of my friends, I struggled with drugs, self-injury, and I barely subsisted on a diet of coffee and sugar. I couldn’t understand how most people just functioned normally, how people got through their day every single day – how people even got out of bed. But finally I hit absolute rock bottom and there was nowhere for me to go but back up. I couldn’t take being depressed anymore. I hated myself so much that I finally needed to be better or I couldn’t see how I could possibly go on with my life for another several decades. I started with exercise, not even realizing it would help me beat my depression, I was just tired of being ‘fat’ and ‘flabby,’ and I did that for several months before I started trying to correct my eating habits, not because I thought it would make me better but because it was “what normal people do.” None of these things came easily to me, they were all habits I had to cultivate and I am still working on very hard, but here I am, just about a year after the point where I couldn’t take it anymore, and honestly my life circumstances haven’t changed much but I do feel like I am no longer depressed, I don’t feel like I live in a black hole, under that cloud separating me from the rest of the world. In fact, I honestly identify with the emotion “happy” more than I ever have in my life, and I attribute it 100% to healthy eating and exercise. Every single person has a different experience, but I firmly believe that if more of us did focus on cultivating healthy habits, it would help us develop our minds more healthfully. But I do think that many people- probably most – can benefit from counselling. I remember my darkest points, spending night after night looking up therapists and options but never making contact, because I was too afraid. I did it all by myself, without any help, and those people I know in my life who have come back to me are amazed at the changes I have wrought upon myself. Please do not disregard the power of healthy living habits when it comes to developing a healthy mind, because it is truly what saved my life.

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      Hi Laura and Kate,
      I am so sorry if I offended you. I really and truly didn’t mean to do so :(. You’re very right that I would have some nerve to say I understand what it’s like to have Depression when I’ve never experienced it, myself. No, I don’t think that chocolate can cure Depression, and I do agree with you that people suffering from it ought to seek help. But I also think that maybe some of the things I listed can help alleviate SOME of the pain, even if it’s just a little. I do know people who have suffered through real Depression, and some of the things I listed in my post have been helpful to them, such as getting enough sunlight or sleep. True, it didn’t cure them, but every little bit helps. Once again, I’m very sorry if any of my words were offensive, because that was NOT my intent :(.

      • Amanda says

        Katie, I don’t think you did anything wrong with this post. I have had depression for a number of years now, and I strongly disagree with Laura’s statement that you have to go to counseling in order to get better. What about those of us who can’t afford counseling? Does that mean we’re doomed to a life of depression forever? I refuse to believe this is the case. Of course it is harder to fight this on our own, without a trained therapist, but that’s one of the biggest reasons why Katie’s post is so wonderful- because people need to speak up and talk about this, not say “Oh people with depression just need to find a therapist and work out their issues in counseling.” No! We need to talk about it with other people and see that it’s normal to struggle and have bad days for everyone. Yes, I know that Katie and some of the others commenting here don’t have depression with a capital D, but it helps those of us who do to see that even they struggle sometimes. I was so relieved to know that Katie is not always happy and smiley (although this makes me seem mean that I want others to be unhappy, that’s not true. It just makes me relieved to know even happy people have their bad days). And Katie’s list is great. So what if she, herself, doesn’t have depression? It doesn’t mean those of us who do can’t benefit from putting some of her ideas into practice, especially those of us who are in this on our own, without medical help. We need to keep talking about this. Kudos to you, Katie, for bringing up the topic in a society that says depression is wrong and like Maria said, society finds us weak. Well you know what? I get up every day and I choose to fight depression with similar tactics to some that Katie mentioned. I refuse to let it engulf me just because I’m not lucky enough to be able to afford counseling.

        • Kate says

          Hi Amanda,

          Just like any illness, I guess we all have different experiences. I understand not being able to afford counseling–one of the problems I have with getting my mother services right now. If you are in a more urban area, there may be nonprofits who offer mental health services for free or at a very highly subsidized rate for those who can’t pay for them, in case you need them in the future. Best of luck in your struggle,


          • Kate says

            Also, I definitely know counseling is not for everyone, I just said that to Amanda because she (or maybe someone else, I am getting confused) said she couldn’t afford to go and so had to fight on her own–which to me implied she wanted to go. I was just pointing out options. I’m started to feel really attacked, which is sad because my experience is no less real than anyone else’s, so I”m going to stop replying now.

          • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

            Oh Kate, please don’t feel attacked. I was very grateful for your comments, as they helped to remind me of the severity of the disease and that I really need to remember that others are suffering A LOT and perhaps my post unintentionally made light of the situation. I don’t know first-hand about depression, but I DO believe it’s a true disease, just like Cancer, and should be treated as such. I’m so sorry if anything I’ve written caused you any pain. But truly, I appreciate your genuine comments/opinions. *hugs*

          • Ilana says

            Therapy isn’t for everyone. It is not an option for me, it never will be, because it ruined my life as a child and I will never go back. If it is for you, awesome, more power to you, but it doesn’t work for everybody. It isn’t a cure-all. In fact, it made me much, much worse off during my teen years. Instead, I taught myself to be better. I understand not everybody can do that, but not everybody can go to therapy either.

        • Laura says

          Just to clarify, while I stand by what I said about counseling, I should definitely have been more specific. Free websites like offer a form of online counseling and I know that there are others like them. Also, many hospitals will be able to provide someone to talk to, free of charge. If a person has access to at least the internet, there are ways to benefit from some form of counseling. I don’t mean that everyone needs to pay $150 an hour to a psychiatrist in order to recover, of course I don’t; I just think it’s necessary to have some form of help from qualified medical professionals.

          Again, though, I wasn’t trying to denigrate what Katie did here. I fully appreciate the motivation and the ideas behind it, all I meant was that sometimes it needs to be qualified as to different levels of depression and what sort of help is required. I don’t know, I know it’s a touchy subject. I wasn’t trying to attack Katie at all and I hope she didn’t feel that way.

          • Laura says

            And when I say that “everyone” can benefit from professional assistance, I’m talking about the level of depression that I believe Kate was also referring to. If no self-help strategies as above are working and the situation is dire, then I personally believe there is no other option. Sometimes it’s not enough to try to help yourself.

          • Laura says

            However, I do also realise that this is a food blog and I didn’t intend to spark any kind of personal attacks here.

            At least in this forum, will happily return to the chocolate tales tomorrow, Katie! 🙂

          • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

            Hey Laura,
            As I told Kate, I am glad you were brave enough to leave your thoughts. And I’m also glad you pointed out your issue with my choice of titles (which I now changed). I always like to receive constructive criticism, because it helps me to not make the same mistake in the future. As I told Bobby, I think I might’ve been in the wrong for treating such a serious subject so lightly.
            Happy Saturday, sweetie :).

      • Kate says

        Katie, your words were not offensive. I personally found that they confused sadness and depression and offered techniques that just can’t help someone who is deep in throes of clinical depression, but other posters feel otherwise, as clear from the responses to my comments and Laura’s comments. That likely speaks to different experiences with depression of different depths or to clinically different diagnoses. It helped some people, that’s great, it won’t help others who are struggling with a different medical condition or are at a different point in their struggle. That’s fine.

        • ~Jessica~ says

          I have to defend Katie on this one.

          Her words were neither offensive nor flippant – yes, she was making light of depression in some respects but if we can’t have a sense of humour about ourselves, then something is terribly wrong. No, depression is not some arbitrary disease that can be magically cured by eating chocolate but if you examine the context of her words then that was by no means Katie’s implication. The post was intended to raise awareness and promote positivity, which is something she always strives to do.

          I suffer from suspected bi-polar disorder (different psychiatrists have debated whether it is bipolar I or II, or a severe anxiety disorder coupled with depression) which can by no means be ‘cured’ and no, most of the time I am not rational enough to take the steps Katie suggests. But I do know that exercise, for example, does have a physical and chemical affect on the brain, and can alleviate some of my symptoms. Likewise, good nutrition helps particularly with me when I am manic as opposed to depressed. Admittedly, in depressed cycles or rapid cycling there isn’t much anyone can do for me, but I love the fact that Katie is offering methods of dealing with milder forms of mental illness without resorting to shoving medication down people’s throats, which is all that I have ever been offered aside from CBT. I’d rather at least attempt to use holistic methods than spend the rest of my life on lithium.

          Perhaps, as suggested, the ‘D’ word was not the right one. But that doesn’t detract from a sincere effort that was clearly not intended to cause hurt or offence.

          • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

            Thanks so much, Jessica. You really have a way with words. In fact, that might be what gets ME in trouble; I know what I want to say and how I want it to come out, but I’m not always exactly sure how to word it!

  34. Felicia ( a taste of health with balance) says

    katie this is such a great post! theres definitely a huge stigma around all things mental, especially depression. It is real, and we are human, and SAD affects so many! Thanks for being so honest 🙂 This is actually funny because the other day I posted on how chocolate really made me feel like a 100x better. Can never go wrong!

  35. [email protected] of Sugar Free says

    When I lived in Iowa-I had extreme winter blues. I would crawl up in bed and do my homework I would get sick and depressed so often. I had my blood tested, and turns out I was EXTREMELY deficient in Vitamin D! I started taking a supplement, and I felt a whole lot better! Now in Florida, I feel great! But sometimes I still feel badly if I sit in front of the computer too much..blech…..

    All in all, I am a pretty happy person like you! I figure that I only have so much time in this world. Why waste it being sad?

  36. emily says

    I think your get happy list is great! 🙂 And it’s perfectly normal not to be happy all the time…it’s your response to those unhappy days that really matters, and it sounds like you have some great ways to cheer yourself up. I always feel A TON better after running…suddenly I feel like I can conquer the world again. 🙂 And chocolate never hurts either!

  37. Blog is the New Black says

    Love this thoughtful, honest post. Everyone has bad days and that’s ok! You can be sad without reason. Great tips to overcome them!

  38. Hannah says

    Thanks for sharing, Katie! I definitely am more sad in wintertime, but I’ve also dealt with major depressive disorder. It’s so true-women especially-have pressure to look happy all of the time! But that’s impossible. So it’s good to know I’m not alone out there….thanks for sharing 🙂

  39. Alex says

    My SAD has been terrible this year, combined with a bit of family drama meant tears A LOT towards the end of last year.

    Like you say, keeping my body full of essential minerals, exercising, going to bed early and being thankiful for all the good stuff has definitely helped.

    In addition, rewarding myself every now and then for a job well done never goes a miss (this is usually where the chocolate comes in!) and I make a positive effort to be nicer to others, as acts of kindness will get paid right back in feel-good-feelings – then everyone feels good!

  40. Lauren @ says

    I love that you did a post about this! I live in MI and the winter seems sooooo loooonnnggggg…and it sometimes is hard to handle. Always so gloomy!!!

    Exercise really is the best thing that makes me feel better! If I get into a rut of not exercising I can totally feel the difference!!!!

  41. Rach says

    Wow. I could’ve written this post. Seriously. All the way from people always commenting on how happy I am all the time to occasionally feeling SAD-like symptoms to the exact same list you created. I love that we’re on the same wave length. Way to get personal and share, we need more of that!

  42. Alexandra (Veggin' Out in the Kitchen) says

    What a great post, Katie! Healthy foods that I enjoy are sooooo important to making me feel happy! My other “happy secret” – spend lot’s of time with my pets 🙂 If I’m not feeling great, I simply ride my horse or play with my dogs and cat, and then I feel amazingly better!

  43. Wendy says

    This was a lovely post, Katie! No one is ever happy 24/7/52. As long as you’re happy with what you have most of the time, that’s great. 🙂

    For me, I used to follow this channel on YouTube called “fiveawesomegirls,” where each girl had a specific day of the week in which they would make a video.
    In all of their videos, they had to say “Today was awesome because…”

    They recently stopped the project after 3 years, but I started making a “Today is awesome because _______” journal just to make my day better.

    I feel like if I write at least once a day, even if it was a lame/boring day, you will have to make yourself look back on the whole dreary day, but still be able to pick up one good, minor thing that happened. That way, it might brighten up your mood a little bit.

    That, and if I’m sad, I can look at the journal and hopefully it will make me more cheerful.

    You could always try that! 🙂

      • Diana (Soap & Chocolate) says

        I agree – I mean, I am not consistent in this habit but seriously, I can find at least one tiny awesome thing about each day, even if at the end of it I’d rather just say, wow I had a bad day. But maybe it’s something small like not having to wait for a washer in the laundry room! Doing laundry is not fun, but it really is just awesome when you don’t have to keep going back to the laundry room in your apt building to see if a machine is free yet. 🙂

        Great discussion on this post, Katie. Really interesting. (And as usual, I am totally late to this party.)

  44. Ilana says

    Love this post, as ever. As someone who suffered from depression most of her life, I have to say I strongly agree with every single one of these points. Finding a balance of healthy living habits – including healthy THINKING – was my big key to beating depression. When I was in the worst of it, I craved chocolate like no tomorrow, all day every day. I know there were days where I would eat 2 whole Lindt bars for lunch or dinner, because that was all I wanted. Little did I know I was self-medicating …. and making myself worse. Of course, I have to say I think it’s perfectly natural and incredibly healthy to have down days, too. Being always up is another mental illness, and can actually be dangerous! Everything in moderation, even happiness.

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      I so agree with you, Ilana… and I think that people who are “happy all the time” might actually not truly BE happy all the time, they might just feel like they can’t show it because of the way society views sadness as equal to weakness.

  45. Namaste Gurl says

    Well said and totally what I seek and look for in bringing me happiness and fulfillment. If I don’t stay on my regular schedule of exercise, sleep, friends, healthy and balanced eating, etc, then I don’t feel myself and well. So true on all those topics you noted. When I’m down, low and sinking in joy and energy, I look at what’s missing and what I can bring back to to help me stay on my usual track. 🙂

  46. Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) says

    Winter blues? Well here’s a HUG for you too cheer up your dark days! 😀

    I used to suffer from depression, and that was not a happy time at all! The right foods and support from loved ones definitely helped me through though. I love how geniune this is, and I think your tips are awesome! 🙂

  47. Aylin @ GlowKitchen says

    Hi Katie,
    This is such a great post! Like you, my #1 way to stave off bouts of unhappiness is to call up a friend and basically “force it til i feel it”. Even when I think meeting up with a friend is the last thing I want, it’s actually the 1st thing I NEED!

    …and of course chocolate. Who could resist? (as she pops a piece of 70% dagoba in her mouth)


  48. Ann @ Running With Chopstix says

    First, I have to say that I love your honesty! I think some people dislike it when other people are sad because it makes them feel either bad for feeling happy or uncomfortable. If I’m feeling bluesy, there’s nothing like dancing around to some music or chatting with a friend 🙂

  49. bitt says

    I get what the commenters above mean when they say you are not having capital D depression and SAD is a little different. So what? Being down still sucks. Being able to pick yourself up out of it with a few tools like this is what keeps it from being more serious and if you can’t use tools like this so get out of it, then it’s a signal to get more serious help. I don’t discuss my depression too much on my blog but it is there. I am way too good at hiding it, so I get that. It swings from mild to severe at times, and I’m glad I’m being treated. I didn’t take offense to your post, because sometimes one of the acts you mentioned can be enough to get myself up enough to not slip further into depression. You just have to keep doing the simple things like showering and exercising (even a brisk walk) and so forth. And don’t underestimate the power of pooch love! That’s one of my favorites. And kitty love too.

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      One of my really good friends suffered with depression for three years and saw different counselors. But she told me that her biggest breakthrough was when her parents got her a dog! (It helped that her dog was the kind who liked to lick faces lol.)

  50. Mary @ Bites and Bliss says

    We all can’t have 100% happy days..but you’re lively and bouncy most days, that is what really matters. Plus, 9 out of 10 has most of us beat!! Great tips on chasing the blues. I definitely follow many of the same ones..especially getting outdoors.

  51. Brandie says

    I am seriously cracking up Katie…. your post IS a cure for the blues… you DO know what ‘Friends with Benefits’ means? LOL. So hilarious that you’d post that… Seeing as you’re another single lady n all 😉 Cute.

    On a serious note – I love this post – thank you SO much!! I so need to get my butt moving… because you realize what happens when you don’t exercise (or move at ALL)? You not only do not get the endorphin rush… you may even gain weight! Which, let me share with you, will make you even MORE DEPRESSED. Yep, sure will.

    I love that you addressed this topic… such helpful tips, and from someone who actually PRACTICES them!! 🙂 Love you!

  52. Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA says

    I think it’s important to talk about depression and get rid of the stigma against it. And this is good advice for anyone. It’s true that depression is a real mental illness that involves brain chemistry, as some commenters above mentioned, but like any disease, it can be affected by your lifestyle! Heart disease is real, and yet you can improve heart disease through diet and exercise. Your lifestyle still matters. My step-dad suffered for years from crippling depression and was constantly on medication. Over the last couple years he really changed his lifestyle, including incorporating exercise and a vegan diet. He still struggles with depression and always will but really, he is like a new man – he has so many more good days now.

    Personally, I am happy most of the time, but I’ve suffered three major depressive episodes in my life, each of which was incredibly serious and lasted for months. Two of the “episodes” were triggered by deaths of people who were really important to me. Now I know that I have to take care of my happiness, and I try and manage my happiness on a day-to-day basis, to lessen the chance that sadness or loneliness will escalate to full-on depression.

    I think all of your tips are good. For me, personally, I’d add –
    1) Put on good-looking clothes and some makeup. I may not want to do it, but it helps. It also helps prevent the kind of overeating that leaves you with only sweatpants to wear.
    2) Learn something. Sometimes I need to immerse myself in studying a language or something else so I can use my brain and get lost in a topic.
    3) Watch a little bit of good TV. Too much TV can be bad because it can encourage that lounge-around-in-pajamas laziness, but when something really bad happens, like a family member dies, it can help to immerse yourself in someone else’s problems a little bit and forget about your own, even for an hour.
    4) Look at photos of times that made me happy. I go through a lot of loneliness living 3,000 miles away from all my family but looking at pictures of them on Facebook makes me happier when I really miss them.

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a meaningful, honest comment… with great tips! I forgot about how much happiness you can get from looking at photos! But it’s so true; photo albums were my rock when I felt homesick my first year of college, especially :).

  53. [email protected] says

    To beat the blues I just take a step back and think of what a blessed life I have. I really think about all that is good in my life and that usually picks me up….. and chocolate helps too 😉

  54. Pure2raw Twins says

    Beautiful post!!! Yes chocolate is great for everything 😉

    I like to go outside or listen to my favorite song if I am feeling a little blue! And eating healthy foods I fee is really important as well!!!

  55. Melinda says

    My most recent blog post was aimed at the same thing, except I posted pics of the island and the slow island life we lead out here in the Atlantic. Our weather is not the best right now either so I needed to be reminded of why I love this island so much.

  56. Katharina says

    I get those winter blues too–soup helps! But I know that one major thing that helps me is getting some fresh air and sun. That’s why running outside is something I love no matter what season of they year. Running in snow or rain.. it’s liberating and fun as well 🙂 I do some other things like listen to music, go out for a walk, light some candles, stretching… whatever I think may boost my mood at that moment 🙂 It’s also interesting that you mention taking a shower because in a magazine I read the other day it mentioned that too! It said the negative ions in water will instantly boost your mood! Cool, huh?


  57. Kim says

    Spot on! Beating yourself up (or letting others do it) because you suffer from depression or sadness is not helpful!

    As someone who has suffered from severe depression for years I know how difficult it is to deal with. It is a place so far removed from happiness that happiness can’t even be imagined or remembered when you’re there.

    Of course, as it turned out, the cause of my depression was highly unusual. So much so that exercise actually made it worse! But then, I never could get sick like “normal” people 😉

    I am so glad that treatment for my underlying condition worked and that I don’t suffer from those incredible lows anymore! On the other hand, I am grateful for the experience.

    Thank-you for opening the discussion!

  58. Maryann says

    Ok I know this doesn’t really fit with this post, but since the comments on todays post are closed, I wanted to say I love how you always come up with the cutest names to call your readers 🙂

  59. elyse says

    Thanks for this post. It made me smile when u said its okay to be sad sometimes…its okay. Society does tell u how u have to be happy all the time. Thank you for saying that.:)

  60. dragonmamma/naomi says

    Definitions of depression on the Web:

    a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity

    *sad feelings of gloom and inadequacy*

    depressive disorder: a state of depression and anhedonia so severe as to require clinical intervention
    For goodness sake, people, this is a FOOD BLOG written by a nice young lady who has some excellent advice for dealing with the blues. Reread the title of the post, and note that she is not a medical worker. Stop ripping her words to shreds and just be grateful.

  61. Kristi says

    I love your get happy list! If I’m feeling blue I usually try to keep myself busy so I don’t have time to sit around feeling lost. I think eating chocolate is one of the best ways to feel better 🙂

  62. Bobby says

    The beauty about being human is that we can choose what and how we treat our afflictions. Some things work for some and not others. I’ve been seriously considering anti-depressants (I doubt shots of Vitamin ‘V’ are going to cure anyone’s woes) but after a get together with someone on the edge…I’m beginning to reconsider.

    I do agree with whoever stated that the title of this post should be “How to cure the winter blues” because this is perfect for those days that you just feel “blah”. Your intentions have always been pure and (dare I say it) positive and I don’t think anyone who follows your blog can doubt that.

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      Thanks, Bobby. I think, perhaps my error was in treating the post subject too lightly. After reading Laura’s comment, though, I did change the post title from “cure” to “help”. The first title was definitely off base, and I’m truly sorry for that.

  63. Pure2raw twins says

    WOW, I am not even sure where to begin. Katie, looks like you got some really interesting discussions going on here 🙂 Which is good, because depression is a serious thing, affects a lot of people, some more than others. I have struggled with it my whole life, and still have bad days, like you said. But having a friends (like you) can always help remember that life is worth living. Everyone has to come to their own terms and understand what is causing them to be depressed. It can be hard to face fears and all, but I do believe depression can be cured. Just takes hard work and FAITH! Wonderful post Katie!!! xoxo

  64. Elle says

    Hey Katie,
    I love your blog! I’ve been reading it for awhile now, and finally decided to speak up. 🙂 This post is so awesome. Exercising (running mostly) is definitely at the top of my ‘get happy’ list! I definitely feel much worse on days when I don’t run and don’t eat enough veggies. 🙂

  65. Katherine: Unemployed says

    Katie, this isn’t about depression, it’s about the winter blues. Depression is a whole different illness. It is a medical condition like having diabetes, heart disease, …etc. I think about things like depression in terms of broken arms that you cannot see. Something is broken and needs healing, and you cannot expect someone with a broken arm to play baseball,; it will take medical care and time to get through. What you’re talking about is sadness for someone who does not suffer from depression. Just my thoughts here

  66. Bobby @ boymeetscake says

    To anyone thinking she meant to “hurt” or “offend”…until she gets into an argument with Matt Lauer or starts jumping on Oprah’s couch, I highly doubt she meant any disrespect.

  67. BroccoliHut says

    I applaud you for bring up this topic, Katie. I exude a certain cheeriness on my blog, but I, too, struggle frequently with keeping my chin up.

  68. Jennifer says

    As someone who has worked with children that have been abused and is continually studying psychology I wanted to share a couple thoughts. I think it is common to believe that our own experiences are what make up reality for other people as well. This goes for both sides of this issue. Those of us that have had certain techniques work to help us with sadness, the blues, SAD, depression (clinical or otherwise) can at times assume that this works for everyone or that what didn’t work for us won’t work for other people in our same situation. I see this with nutrition a lot too. Everyone’s body performs optimally at different levels of eating habits and exercise. That doesn’t make the fact that someone else performs better eating differently is a bad thing; the fact is that we all have unique characteristics that make us who we are and that’s what’s great about being a human.

    I completely understand where those of you who think depression wasn’t the right word for the debate are coming from, but is may help you to realize that there are actually multiple types of depression and each one of them is treated differently. You may be talking about clinical depression, manic depression or depressive disorder which are the serious forms of depression; but doctors still diagnose people with “depression” who aren’t clinically depressed or depressed to the degree that you may have been/are. That doesn’t mean that it’s any less serious, but generally the treatment plans will be different. Depression is a word used to cover a multiple of symptoms so assuming that your type is the only one isn’t correct, just as assuming that occassional feelings of sadness is the same as clinical depression isn’t correct either.

    I personally suffered from a pretty severe case of post-partum depression. The darkness that you feel at that point is difficult to describe and I definitely don’t ever want to go back there again. You know what helped cheer me up while I was in the dark tunnel? I watched episodes of The Office with my baby and we danced to the theme song. It was the one thing that could help me feel some light in the midst of the darkness. I wouldn’t use that as a diagnoses for someone else, but it’s what worked for me.

    I think what Katie did was a great thing. Whether or not you personally agree with her take on depression she got a conversation started about a very touchy subject and helped a lot of people who needed to see some light in that tunnel.

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      I love the point you brought up about how different things work for different people. Like naps– they energize some people, but taking a nap would be the worst thing for me, because they make me even more sleepy/sluggish. Definitely you have to do what works for you, even if that sometimes means ignoring conventional wisdom.

      • Jennifer says

        I really like your list too. Even if it doesn’t “cure” all depression those things are very helpful for anyone who is sad, in the blues or depressed. I personally struggle with depression if I don’t eat well, get enough natural light, or allow myself to get too stressed out. Doing the things you mentioned have helped me to maintain a generally healthy outlook on life even if I don’t feel like doing them.

        • Virginia says

          I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and I find one of the biggest things for me is having a creative outlet like blogging, journaling, sketching, or playing music. I feel like these things allow me to do something positive with my sad energy and sometimes just sitting and breathing and doing these activities in itself helps!

          (By the way, I have been a long time reader of your blog but have never commented. Nice to meet you!)

  69. Gloria says

    Clinical Depression and anxiety is unfortunately common in my family. My brother, mother, and grandmother all suffer from it. I struggle with anxiety and sometimes the thought of even getting out of bed in the morning to face the world makes it hard to breathe. I’m 24, have my dream job, own my own house, and have the most loving family, boyfriend, and close group of friends. There is NO reason why I should feel this way. My mother and I refuse any type of medication to “treat” our emotional imbalances. You know what we do? EXACTLY what you listed! Exercise, eat healthy vegan food, walk on the beach everyday, and consume lots of chocolate!!! After 40 years of battling the negative thoughts, my mother has found so much peace through those simple lifestyle changes.

    So don’t let anyone let you feel guilty about speaking your mind. I thought this post was beautifully written and offers useful advice to those who are suffering from depression and anxiety. Thanks Katie! Can’t wait for your next fudgalicious dessert recipe 🙂

  70. chelsey @ clean eating chelsey says

    I think this post was beautifully written Katie! What a great post for a new reader to view! 🙂

    I definitely battle SAD type symptoms in the winter time. I used to be in denial about it, but honestly I don’t know why there’s such a stigma about sadness. I also battled with crazy emotions/depression for a few years until I figured out I was hypothyroid and depression is one of the symptoms! Go figure – so, word to the wise – depression can be a symptom of an underlying disease!

  71. Nicole says

    I haven’t read the entire discussion, but I’ll throw in my two cents anyways 😉

    Firstly I don’t htink anyone was saying that you did anything “wrong”, exactly… because you haven’t! It is true that for some people it’s not just a mindset thing, though that can help. I am, I think, one of them. I’ve been on and off antidepressants for years (though my babbly, bubbly blog personality hardly seems depressed) and to be frank I’ve been struggling more recently than ever before. And even so, little happy things like the ones you bring up in this post can turn my typical mediocre-bad day into something a little bit better.
    So ultimately it’s all an individual experience thing, and I thought this post was very sweet and exactly what I needed. 🙂

    lots of hugs and love!

  72. Jen says

    Katie, I’m a new reader to your blog. It’s great– fresh, fun and interesting to read. All I want to say is this: reading a blog is voluntary. I know it’s great when the discussions get going, but please don’t let other people’s thoughts make you feel bad or feel like you need to appologize for expressing your thoughts. It sounds blunt, but if there is a reader who is especially sensitive to a topic, and that topic is listed as the title for the post, maybe they shouldn’t read it. You have the right to your thoughts and feelings and a right to express them. This post was honest and well written, and I can’t wait to keep reading your blog!

  73. Norma Richardson says

    Great ideas shared by everyone. Depression is a very complex topic as it can range from the single episode of feeling sad for a day or two to the more serious types such as bi-polar. Not all types require medical intervention and research is even showing that for many types of depression, the anti-depressant medications work no better than a placebo.

    I began experiencing depression at a very early age and was then prescribed an anti-depressant in my mid thirties. After twenty years of taking the medication combined with therapy, weaning myself off to only feel like I was falling apart, and then going back on the medication, a doctor told me that I was clinically depressed and would always be, so just give in to taking the meds. I did not give in to that way of looking at my life, and several years ago weaned myself off the meds again, and have found many alternatives for finding happiness.

    Everything that has been mentioned so far is true because it is an individual experience. What Katie has done is terrific in that the dialogue and discussion is so important for someone who is sad or depressed. It is very difficult for most to admit to anyone how they are feeling, and it is even more difficult to know where to go to get help. Many treatments and therapies are quite expensive, even if you have insurance. There are many different types of therapists, many good, and many not so good. It is hard enough to open up and talk about how you feel, but it becomes even more painful when the therapist takes you in a direction that is not healing.

    What Katie has listed as tips and other suggestions are all tools to support you in finding happiness, and isn’t that what we all want. Some may work for you and others may be more difficult to follow through or they may not even help you. The point is to be open to talking and to realize that your own thoughts will take you toward ‘recovery’ or will keep you stuck and lonely.

    One area that has not been mentioned is meditation. When the mind is at peace, so will be the body. Calming your thoughts and knowing that you can stop the destructive rumination about the past or the incessant worry about the future is an effective way to find joy and gratitude in the present moment. There are also supplements such as amino acids that support the neurotransmitters in creating the necessary brain chemicals. So there are many ways to chase away the blues and it is a journey that is just as unique as you are.

  74. Mali K (The Mali K Whey) says

    I think this is a great post, and a great list too. Though I agree that depression is an illness that can’t necessarily be cured by the above steps, I definitely believe that there are practical steps you can take towards minimising the symptoms and combatting the frequency of periods of heavy depression. Not doing these things will just reinforce the depressed state and cause a downward spiral into deeper depression.

  75. moonsword says

    Great list Katie! Very thoughtful discussion. We all have different bodies and personalities and experiences so I think it’s good to learn from other people’s wisdom, then choose and adapt what works for oneself. Two tips that work for me:
    ☆ I painted my bedroom bright warm slightly yellow green, the color of leaves when you look up into the trees on a sunny day. All of it, walls, ceiling, bookshelves…looks great with the wood trim and floors. It makes a huge difference for me because I think in winter especially I do miss sunlight and even more I miss brilliant rich summer colors. When I’m having an off day, I curl up with a book or my sketchbook, a cup of decaf or hot chocolate and snuggle down in my “virtual forest”.
    ☆ I give, give, give, somehow, even in small ways. I remember as a teen I used to bake on bad days…piles and piles of cookies, then watch my brothers gobble them down. It made me feel so good. I’ll do it for friends, co-workers, the UPS man, whomever would appreciate a little surprise cookie-buzz! And volunteering is great too. The local no-kill animal shelter is my favorite because you get to help the furry & feathery little guys with the assurance that they are not destined for an untimely end. It’s so nice to spend time with them and the super people that work there!
    ♥ Hugs to everyone ♥ because that helps too!

  76. Lauren says

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never commented on your blog before, but I identified with this post so much, I just wanted to comment. I am the same, 9 times out of 10, maybe 8.5 out of 10, happy, smiling girl. People tell me I’m bubbly and I’ve even been described as a disney princess, like I should have animated mice and birdies doing my hair and helping me make pie, haha. So, it’s definitely super hard on days when I’m not as effervescent as usual…a fight and struggle to regain my smile for sure. But I have found that everything on your list is generally what helps me, so I think it’s great advice.

    Love the blog, your honesty, health consciousness and general positivity. Good work!

  77. Pam says

    Hey Katie – you’ve contributed to a lot of great thought and discussion about this – thanks! I know this was posted a few days ago, and not sure how many peeps will read this now, but thought I would add my tuppence-worth anyway….

    As others have said, your suggestions may not work to ‘cure’ depression but there is another angle to this.

    I am a mental health nurse in the UK, and we repeatedly try to educate people about the PROTECTIVE EFFECTS that looking after ourselves in the ways you sugest can offer. Having a social network….taking exercise to move the body….eating healthfully and well…..taking good care of ourselves – even if we don’t feel like it….helping ourselves to relax and gain enjoyment in life with things other than street drugs and alcohol…’s been shown that doing these things can help the individual to become stronger, more resilient, and protect against mental health needs resurging so quickly/so intensely. Thought I would just throw that in there – so if peeps can’t do some of these things when really unwell, start doing them as soon as possible. It provides a sense of mastery and achievement each day, which also promotes good feelings!

    I speak from experience….I am prone to the effects of anxiety and depression, and I take prescribed medication to help me keep well. I appreciate that some people are ‘allergic to medics'(!) but I would urge people to have a consultation to check that all else is well in the body. In the UK, if you’re not detained under the Mental Health Act then you do have a choice about taking prescription medication(or not).
    As previously mentioned – untreated underactive(and overactive) thyroid can cause people to become very unwell – mine went untreated for a very long time and I was very unwell – I would get up at 1pm to be at work for 2pm…couldn’t stop sleeping…felt very sluggish and lethargic….felt very low in mood…poor motivation…and lots of other physical things were wrong. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me – once I was treated, I was like a new woman! And all the antidepressants in the world would not have cured that.
    Another physical condition – anaemia – can cause low mood too, so it is worth getting checked out.

    Thanks for your blog Katie,


    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      Thank you so much, Pam, for taking the time to leave such a detailed response! True, this post is a few days old, but the stat counter is showing that a lot of people are still checking back on it, so your advice is very-much appreciated :).

  78. Lily says

    Hi, Katie! I’ve followed your blog for ages, but I’ve yet to comment. LOVED this post in particular. You’re quite the thoughtful, inspiring lil lady. Thank you for all your insights and yummy recipes. I just started a blog of my own, check it out sometime?

    Love, Lily!

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      Hi Lily! I would love to. I’m having internet trouble this week and have very limited access (the storm took out our power, and I’m relegated to internet tethering via iphone), but if you remind me again next week, I’ll be sure to stop by! 🙂

  79. Rachel says

    KATIE! you just made my day. i’m emerging from months of those symptoms. the weather has gotten nicer and i’m a much happier person, but your list really helped me to see things that i can control, rather than letting those things control me. so great! thank you!

  80. L. says

    Hi Katie,

    I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog because you are so considerate of and thoughtful of your readers. When I saw this post in the “related posts” section, I was intrigued and read it – but now that I have read it, I have to say that the title is very misleading. This post is not about “depression” in the clinical sense – rather, it is about beating the blues, which is far from clinical depression. Having suffered from depression myself, I can attest that it is very different from what you mention in your post – including bouts of suicidal thoughts, which are incredibly painful and hard to bear. It affects not only the person who is depressed but also everyone around them. I think the titling of this post is unfair to the people who have struggled with depression, because it simplifies it to simply feeling more sad than usual. If you could give this issue some thought, I would greatly appreciate it – and I am sure others in my position would, too. Thanks, Katie.

  81. Anonymous says

    I’m currently dealing with reverse-SAD. Winter doesn’t bother me one iota and I live in Michigan! I get terrible spring depression though. I’m working hard not to completely give into the urge to do nothing but sleep through spring.

  82. Anita says

    I was thinking of you today CCK. I got a coconut panna cotta with berries at a local shop. It was pretty good but a little sweet. I thought that you, CCK would be able to make a better version with your agar base. Really it’s so light it’s divine.

    How in the world do you get your hair to look so shiny?

    I listen to music when I’m feeling off center but mainly, I just keep busy.

  83. Maris (In Good Taste) says

    Whoa! Some really interesting discussion here. I have to agree with some of the commenters and echo that these are great tips on how to deal with seasonal blues or those funky “off” days everyone has once in awhile.

    As far as clinical depression – the kind caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain – probably wouldn’t be fixed by chocolate alone. With that said though, healthy eating, exercise, relationships — all contribute to making us feel better, whether we feel bad or not.

    Sounds like you got a lot of people thinking here!

  84. Karen says

    The only thing i’d add to your list of beating the blues is a Silly File! A silly file is a simple idea-just a place to collect things that make you smile (or even Better ) Laugh!
    If you collect things that make you laugh and laugh @ least once a day~it’s tough to stay blue.
    I have films,cartoons,stories,pictures saved on my computer or in a file that will make me laugh out loud. One of the best things for a good Laugh is to watch “laughing babiy” videos ~ no sophistication is required, whatever makes you laugh is great.

  85. Laura1971 says

    I found that my sadness and depression was linked to gluten. Taking it out of my diet was life changing. And then going vegan was the iceing on the cake:-)

  86. Claire says

    You are really, really beautiful. Lovely pic and fantastic blog for chocoholics like me! I find my moods are absolutely linked to too much sugar, so the recipes on here using such creative and alternative methods just rule. I’m surprised you don’t have you’re own cookbook/cooking show yet!

  87. Moe says

    I’m a year late in reading this post, but it’s so great to find it on a cold snowy day like today!
    I think that too many people think that we are suppose to be happy all the time and if we are not then there is a huge problem with us. Well when I look into God’s word, the Holy Bible, I don’t see the word happy or happiness anywhere. We are not called to be happy, we are called to be joyful and we can even be joyful on the days that we are down and out.
    Your list of ideas is wonderful!
    Happy New Year!

  88. Kristie says

    So good- thank you for sharing. 🙂 One other tip: when I was at home all day with four little people, so tired all the time, my usually cheerful nature took a beating. I found that it really helped to laugh. Laughing oxygenates the blood. Even if nothing external changes for the better, the simple fact of laughing makes us feel better inside. Even fake laughing works! That was my trump card against the blues. That song, “I Love to Laugh” from the Mary Poppins movie was my secret weapon. “I love to laugh! Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha! Long and loud and free. And the more I laugh, Ha, Ha, Ha! The more I’m a merrier me!” Singing that song, with the fake laughing, actually worked! It got the oxygen pumping around just as well as real laughing. And it was so silly and goofy and fun, it made me smile too. 😀

  89. Anna Banana says

    Definitely found this at the right time. I really enjoy your posts and I love the suggestions here. Feels like there’s a build-up of inertial if I miss a day of exercise and I really have to push to get back on the horse… but nothing makes me feel better.

    Making a list of blessings sounds like a really great idea.

  90. Pamy says

    you are my new hero !! (I’ve gone through this amazing website/blog for many hours, I want to try all recipes and I’m starving !!!!) You are so talented <3 thanks for sharing all this goodness x

  91. Sandy says

    Its good for people to admit that feeling of ‘sadness’ at times I think. Because when more people admit to those feelings we realise that they are perfectly normal feelings to have!
    Unfortunately I am a comfort food eater! Oh how I wish I wasn’t – the suggestions you gave are amazing & I can’t wait next time to go for a walk outside instead of chowing down 5 chocolate biscuits!!!!!

  92. Kary says

    Just wanted to mention about the sleep thing. 7-8 hours may be enough for some people, but it is not enough for me. I need about 9.5 hours of sleep a night, and that is not “too much” for me because that is when I feel rested and energized and can stay awake the whole day. That is also when I naturally wake up (without alarms). Again, I think some people are too quick to judge other people’s sleeping habits based on their own experience. I know people who only get about 4-5 hours a night, and they say that is enough. In high school I used to be able to go on very little sleep (but ironically was also “depressed”), but ever since I had mono (8 years ago) the stereotypical 8 hours is not enough, I am still tired. 9.5 is my perfect number 🙂 I also have a very physically exhausting job so that may be part of it.

  93. Dana says

    This post was just what I needed today! I have been having a very blah day, still in my pjs, lacking motivation, missing my bf, the weather sucks (I’ve been living in New Zealand and missing out on summer in the states)… blah! I was just browsing to see if there was something I could bake to cheer me up, and found this. Thanks! Proceeding to snap out of it! 🙂

  94. Anonymous says

    drawing, writing, painting, taking hot baths and going out with my family really helps me 🙂 and suprisingly i usually only get 3-5 hrs of sleep every night and im actuallt fine! alqays feel rested and energized

  95. Katherine says

    Hi Katie!
    Wow you sound so much like me, it’s weird! I agree with you nutritionally 100%. Peanut butter and coconut are probably my two favorite foods. And exercise always makes me feel better. I’m trying to bake healthy recipes, but my family always complains that my cooking isn’t sweet enough. I practically have no sweet tooth, though. And I refuse to use conventional cookbooks. I love your recipes and am going to try some out tomorrow. Thanks!

  96. Staci Dunn Silva says

    Hey there Katie
    First of all, kudos on your blog and healthy alternatives for desserts. I made your special ingredient chocolate cake for my kids (2 and 5) and they ate it up with so much delight. really cute. Anyhow, are you really moving to Brazil? I live in Brazil and I can tell you, having sunny days most of the year REALLLLYYYYY combats depression. Keep up the good work.
    Blessings –Staci

  97. Eleanor Young says

    Sometimes I just own it, if I’m feeling down I say to myself, so what you have a right to be upset, I shove on a soppy movie and cry, it makes it feel better to have a good cry.
    sometimes I cook Fajitas, with lots of veg and lots of salad and have a fruity dessert 😛 or chocolate 😛 good food makes me feel better
    the third cure for me is a good book I sit down and just read
    my final cure is talk about it, I talk to friends, or my fiancé. I also used to go bereavement counselling, if I feel really bad I’ll email my old counsellor

  98. Kim Bayne says

    What a great list…and as someone who has been diagnosed with depression I wholeheartedly agree that such basic self care actions are truly helpful. Even though it is a very complex condition and the impact is very individual to each person, sometimes even the most severe depression can be positively impacted by some simple acts of nurture to ones’ mind and body. Thanks for sharing xox

  99. Katie says

    Hi Katie!!

    I found this blog by accident when I was googling up an oatmeal recipe (LOVE oatmeal- yes, I’m weird =)) and haha, we have the same name!! AND you are so much like me!!!!! I love desserts and need to eat high- calorie things too and struggle a bit with depression and am normally optimistic and happy though… it’s so odd reading someone’s blog for ten minutes and realizing we share the same thoughts!
    I hope this doesn’t sound creeper-ish. I don’t mean to be creepy… I just think it’s so cool that we are similar. If this is weirding you out than I’m sorry! =}
    Thank you for this blog page and all your other great ones so far!!! I will keep reading your pages and think I’ve just found a new favorite site =)
    -Katie =)

  100. Julie says

    Katie, thank u very much for your wonderful recipies! I’m in love with chocolate and it makes me happy to try every single one of them. You helped me out of my rainy-spring depression – You rock girl !

  101. Lisa says

    Dear Katie,

    I like your blog a lot and I have copied many of your great recipes.
    However, this post set me back quite a lot. It is nice that you share your personal feelings with us, but that you feel sad sometimes is just that – sadness.
    However, being depressive (noted: the illness depression, not just a simple “blues”) I find it rather offensive that you pack together feeling sad sometimes with being really, really sick. I have had too many people giving me advices such as “exercise more”, “eat healthy”, or “be thankful for what you got”. This is no solution whatsoever and I rather wish those “you-can-cure-yourself-rather-easily-if-you-only-try-hard-enough”-wisdoms would stop.
    They work for feeling sad sometimes, they do not cure depression.

    I love your work, Katie, but this article reflected common knowledge more than actual facts about what depression really is.

  102. Sarah says

    This is all great advice for helping boost your mood, but it’s a bit of a touchy subject. I really like that you shared this, since most people just put on a face and never talk about any mood problems at all. I would just like to say something coming from someone who actually has a mental illness though. I know a few others have commented, but it’s important.

    Your suggestions are the exactly things that I try to do and that help me. Running has been great for me (I’m laid up with an injury and that’s just wreaking havoc), eating well, trying not to hide in a hole, etc. However, I had to spend a lot of time working with a psychiatrist with meds and a year of therapy (and trying really hard) in order to get to a point where I was capable of doing those things or even getting much benefit from them. So, if someone does have more serious issues, you need to see someone. Get help. There’s a terrible stigma against mental illness (I’m bipolar only finding out once I was put on anti depressants that threw me into severe and rapid mood cycling that ended up with me in the hospital, and have severe anxiety), but you deserve to live better. I’ve had to try so many meds and adjust them so many times, I’ve been in therapy for a year and I have a few years of just working on things on my own that let me even get to a point where Katie’s suggestions help.

    Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders. They’re serious and none of the above will lift you out of it or cure it, but the above once you’re on proper medication and getting the help you need WILL help. Just believe you can get there. It’s really hard and sometimes it feels like it isn’t even worth trying any more or that you can’t keep making the effort and failing or changing meds again only to have to stay home from work for 3 days because you can’t function, or have hand tremors that leave you unable to hold a fork well enough to eat, etc. It takes time, but as cheesy as it sounds you’re moving forward. It won’t ever go away, but it can be managed and you can enjoy things again, and you can fall down less often.

    I don’t think people meant to sound flippant or to minimize depression; I think it mostly comes from a place of misunderstanding. Never ever tell someone with depression that they just have to do the things that Katie listed. Those things are exactly what someone with mild depression can usually due to manage their symptoms. Some of those things are really helpful for anxiety as well. However, anything more than mild symptoms require a great deal more than that and there is nothing less supportive and more hurtful than telling someone who is depressed that they just need to “get out” or “believe they can be happy” or “other people have it worse”. That isn’t what depression is. It isn’t what anxiety is. It isn’t sadness. It’s an entire change of your mindset that makes awful things feel absolutely true, it’s not having the energy to get out of bed, it’s not feeling like anyone is capable of loving for you or caring for you, it’s getting to a point where you feel nothing, it’s getting to a point where you look at everything as a way to hurt yourself, and not necessarily in an emotional way. It just seems right. That isn’t something that can be fixed by a 3 mile run and a chat with your mum.

    I don’t think Katie meant this to be her sharing what helps her and how she feels likely with the hopes it would help others and maybe there were some words that could have been used otherwise, but don’t yell at her. Try not to get angry. I got upset by this post for the same reason the person before me posted and even more upset by some of the comments left. I don’t think anyone meant to be upsetting. I think it comes from a place of misunderstanding and the common use of “depressed” in a way it shouldn’t be.
    This is what works for Katie and what she hopes will help others. It was a kind thing to post and a very personal thing to post. I can’t tell people what to do or how they should respond, but I’m going to take this as Katie trying to let other people know it’s okay to feel sad and how she deals with it. People like me with more serious issues need other things (e.g. doctors, medication, therapy), but it’s all about finding what works for you and that just happens to be harder (and more expensive…) than it is for other people.

    Please try not to be flippant about mental illness, don’t tell people how they should feel or that what they’re feeling is wrong, don’t use depressed or depression when you mean sad, and try not to get angry at people for not understanding. We still have a long way to go when it comes to stigma against mental illness and a long way to go in treating it.

    If anyone does want to understand their friend or loved one (or anyone) that suffers depression a bit more:

    Those two comics are really good.

    Thank you for sharing, Katie. I hope more people are able to open up about their own problems (whatever the severity) and share what has helped them so that maybe it can help someone else.

    On a sort of unrelated note, thank you for your blog! I found out within a month of being vegan that I have a soy allergy and within the first year was diagnosed with celiacs. Your recipes are an awesome and tasty find. I will not discuss how many mug cakes I have made or how much peanut butter I ate after looking at your recipes last night.

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