Winter Blues


Photo courtesy of Jacob Wood.

Often in winter people, whether they suffer from mental illness or not, tend to feel more sad. This can be caused by what is known as seasonal depression or “the winter blues”; winter means being indoors more often and the sun sets very early so we are living in more darkness than usual. If you are normally happy and healthy, the winter blues can still affect you but there are many simple solutions. If you or someone you know are  becoming severely depressed or even losing the will to live, you should not take it as just seasonal blues; it may be serious. If you are worried about your’s or someone else’s mental health or are showing any signs of depression reach out to a parent, a teacher, a doctor, or one of the hotlines listed below. 


Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-827-7571

Suicide Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

National Alliance on Mental Illness Hotline 1-800-950-6264 


Seasonal Sadness 

The winter is often the source of increased sadness because we are stuck inside; being outside in fresh air helps sadness and depression. We also often get less exercise during the winter because we are unable to go on a hike, a jog, a bike ride, or even a walk around the neighborhood. Another big factor of seasonal sadness is that the sun begins to set earlier and earlier everyday. The increase in darkness can often cause negativity to take over our mental health and force us to feel sad or depressed.

Common Solutions

The following lifestyle changes are meant to provide help to winter sadness and even depression, however they will not meant to cure a serious condition. If you feel that you’re experiencing clinical depression, contact your doctor or someone you trust. 

Exercise reduces depression as well a stress. If your depression stems from your career or school related stress, exercise may be beneficial to you. 

Finding a hobby can also help mental and emotional well-being. No matter the hobby of choice, whether it is reading, writing, drawing, playing an instrument, or scrap booking,  taking some “me time” can improve your mood.

Spending time outside is likely to improve mental health; although it is difficult to find time to go outside in winter weather,  it is possible. Whenever there is a day with generally nice weather and the sun is out, give yourself 5 minutes to sit outside and breathe in the fresh air. It would also help to let sunshine in through windows on sunny days.

Meditation is another simple solution for a variety of different problems. Meditation can increase positive moods and relaxation. Meditation is also known to reduce stress, which may contribute to your seasonal sadness.

Volunteering is a great way to get out of the house and surround ourselves with people.  Consider volunteering somewhere outside to also help boost happiness. Volunteering is likely to boost moods and also helps the community at the same time!

Eating healthier is another simple way to increase happiness. Whether this means cutting out junk food, eating more vegetables, or just kicking one specific food habit to the curb it is likely to help during winter blues.

Listening to upbeat music is great way to improve your mindset without doing too much work, all you have to do is pick a few songs. This can easily be integrated with exercise as another way to help with sadness. It is easy to combine the two by working out to music or taking a dance class.

Keeping a journal is beneficial all the time regardless of mental state because it helps release pent up feelings, but it is especially helpful during times of stress or sadness. Keeping a journal by writing in it every night before bed, even if it is only a few sentences will most likely help with seasonal sadness.


If you or a loved one are concerned about your winter blues being more severe talk with a doctor to see how they can help. A doctor might prescribe Vitamin D supplements and they might even diagnose you with S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) if they feel it is appropriate.