Seven tips to avoid the winter blues

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as ‘winter depression’ or ‘the winter blues’, is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Around six per cent of us are thought to suffer from it, another ten per cent or so have milder seasonal mood swings, and most of us seem to feel more lethargic and less positive during the winter months. One study even showed that heavy rain increases the number of negative posts on Facebook!

If you know that your mood drops as the light changes and the colder weather rolls around, you can take action to help prevent it. Start now to focus your time and energy on things that bring you happiness.

Consider these tips to help you gain a more positive mindset during winter:

  1.  Find some quotes that lift your mood and keep them handy, for example on your screensaver.
    There is beauty and joy in the winter months, although it’s often more subtle that the beauty of a warm summer day. The American novelist Amelia Barr said:

    It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy, we face the storm and defy it.

    And from the English writer John Ruskin:

    Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
  2. Fit ‘SAD-friendly’ Full Spectrum light bulbs in the rooms where you spend most of your time .
    Many researchers attribute the drop in our mood in winter months to changes in the light. Being in full-spectrum light, even if it’s artificial, works much better to help your mood than just turning on all the lights in your house, and is even thought to help to boost productivity and mood.
  3. Take a break.
    If time and finances allow, visit somewhere sunny and warm each winter, even if only for a few days. The anticipation of the change in routine will help lift your mood in the run-up to your holiday as well.
  4. Get outside, even in bad weather. 
    Being outside, even when it’s cold, can lift your mood and make you feel more positive. Being in natural surroundings has been proven to reduce tiredness, anxiety and depression and a study in Norwich showed that ‘natural surroundings’ doesn’t have to mean long treks through snowy forests. Urban parks, street greenery and undeveloped areas with natural vegetation all help. (See this article on my other blog for more information about this.)
  5. Find activities that keep you busy and make you happy.
    If the weather is too bad to go out, make the most of it. Have a duvet day. Start that book you've always wanted to read or binge-watch your favourite TV series. Many winter sports like skiing or snowboarding are now offered at indoor activity centres and can bring you the emotional and physical benefits of exercising whilst offering a more controlled version of the winter weather.
  6. Remember that depression is treatable - even if it's only occasional.
    If your mood dips and you feel generally fed up in the winter months, these ideas might help you shake off the winter blues, but it's important to take depression seriously. It’s not a sign of weakness; in fact, in my experience, it often affects people who are strong and try to keep going no matter what. If your symptoms are severe and you’re struggling to cope the best first stop is your doctor, who can offer a number of services that might be helpful including therapy and medication.
  7. Remind yourself that Spring is just around the corner.
    Focus on the things that matter to you and make you happy. Winter is only a season, and you'll have spring, summer, and autumn to do all kinds of great things outside in the sunshine. The colder days will pass more quickly if you have something to do to occupy your time, and spring will arrive before you know it.



Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control.Debbie is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and has co-written the Hypnotherapy Handbook both of which are available from Amazon.
Find out more about Debbie's services on  or phone 01977 678593