Coping with the winter blues

Welcome to our Youth Talk Blog, a section dedicated to youth lived-experiences with mental health and wellbeing, with weekly blog posts from diverse young people’s perspectives. This is a positive, fun and resourceful space, showcasing young people thriving and connecting with healthful activities, resources and support. This post has been written by Jess, our Community Education intern, who is a 22-year-old psychology student.


It is that time of the year again where it is freezing cold, and this weather can impact our moods. It can also impact us behaviourally by making many of us avoid going out in cold and rainy weather, often preventing us from being productive. Winter blues are a common occurrence for many people every year. During winter times it seems ideal to watch a movie and sit in front of a fire.


It is important to differentiate winter blues from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression that people experience at a particular time of the year during a particular season, often starting in the autumn and continuing in winter.


The following are some tips to follow to try and boost your mood during winter times by Working Wise:

  1. Keep active, make sure to move your body around. This can be hard in winter but even doing some exercise at home or following a YouTube workout, is what I have found to be very helpful. You also get the added endorphins which naturally boost your mood.

  2. Go outside and get some fresh air and natural sunlight. This can reduce symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and sunlight can be paired well with exercise and going for a small walk.

  3. Eat well - cutting out junk foods can also do wonders in making one feel better.

  4. Make sure you leave time for yourself to unwind at the end of the day. Do things that make you feel de-stressed. This can be reading a book, watching television or having a bath and doing some self-care.

  5. Lastly, reach out to others when you are feeling low. Connection and support can help one feel better, and it is beneficial just talking to others about how you are feeling, even if it means all they need to do is listen.

Winter blues can also involve lack of motivation and a disruption in sleep schedule as well as sadness. Verywellmind.com has a list of certain self-care suggestions that can decrease the winter blues. For example, try and decrease screen time; This is a common thing to do in winter, but extended periods of screen time can perpetuate low mood. Maintain a sleep routine, this will help give your body the right amount it needs at a time where it is easy to go astray.


Personally, I find this time of the year very easy to hole myself inside and not socialise as much and stick to my bedroom and Netflix. This increases my low mood from not spending any time with others in certain time periods. I forget how good it feels to spend time with people and the good mood it puts me in. I suggest focusing on spending time with others every now and then to help lessen the winter blues. Even if it means watching a movie with a flatmate rather than on your own.


Effects of winter blues can be lessened through small steps that can be taken every day. I hope this advice can help others, as doing this research has certainly given me some ideas I can use to make this time of the year perhaps not seem so cold and lonely.


Resources and further reading

https://workingwise.nz/top-tips-for-battling-the-winter-blues/

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-beat-the-winter-blues-5087998

https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/winter-blues-or-seasonal-affective-disorder

https://www.bepure.co.nz/blogs/news/beating-winter-blues