Ten ways to beat the winter blues

Winter can be tough - with short days, long, dark nights and miserable weather, it's normal to feel a bit down. But there are lots of ways you can beat the winter blues to make the season a bit easier for yourself and those around you.

how to beat the winter blues

If you're experiencing the winter blues, don't hibernate away...

That time after Christmas, and before Spring has sprung, can be rough. It’s common to feel low during January and February. When you think about it, there’s no wonder – the fun of the holidays is over, you’re usually skint from Christmas and the promise of Spring seems like a cruel joke. The temptation is to hibernate away, but research shows there are better ways to beat the winter blues…

Embrace winter

Yes, really. By January the romantic novelty of snuggling up with a hot chocolate kind of wears off, but be persistent. Try making your home, or at least your bedroom, feel cosy with candles and extra blankets. Invest in a cosy pair of pjs, try seasonal cooking or baking, wrap up warm and go on wintry walks with family or friends.

Exercise is your friend

Exercise might not seem like your friend when it’s cold and dark outside, but getting your blood pumping is one of the most effective things you can do to beat low mood. When it comes to exercise, the most important thing is finding something you enjoy – anything from football to yoga, to home workouts will do the job. Read more on exercise and mental health here.

See the light

The days are shorter, and the cold might have you recoiling from your front door, but natural daylight is an effective mood booster. Make the most of it by drawing your curtains, getting out for walks on sunny days and venturing outside on your lunch break.  

Try your hand in the kitchen

According to research, there is a strong link between our mental health and what we eat. In winter it’s tempting to only eat carby, stodgy and sugary foods, but try tweaking your diet to include mood boosting ingredients like vegetables, omega 3 (found in fatty fish, nuts and avocados) and vitamin D (found in eggs, red meat and mushrooms.) Remember, there’s no need to be mega strict – the occasional chocolate treat can have mood boosting properties too! 

Use this time productively

While you’re not busy frolicking in the park in your crop top, why not use this time productively? Hunker down and sort out that sock draw. Donate your unwanted clothes to charity. Set up a filing system for your documents/letters/photographs. There’s no point pretending a clear-out isn’t tedious, but the satisfaction afterwards is worth it. 

Plan something to look forward to

Planning nice things to see you through the winter months should help you see the light at the end of this dreary, cold tunnel. Make it a priority to book in dates with friends, plan to go to the cinema or theatre, to try out a new restaurant, or save up your money for a weekend away when the weather starts to improve. 

Trick your body

Research shows that listening to upbeat music and watching feel good films or TV can help your brain release endorphins (happy hormones). Make yourself a playlist packed with your favourite bangers, or ask for some feel good film and TV recommendations. For an extra dose of endorphins, try these activities in the company of others.

Tend to your social life

The temptation to hibernate is real at this time of year. But resist it and reach out to your friends. Staying social is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Say yes to invitations and embrace the time of year by hosting cosy winter gatherings – fondue party anyone? Wintry walks? Potluck dinner party? Film night?

Make self care a priority

When we feel low, self care can go out the window, but try sticking with it. Making your bed for example – it’s a simple task that shows you care about yourself and sets your intention for the day. Other small tasks that can make a big difference to your mood include cooking healthy meals for yourself, keeping your living space tidy and taking pride in your appearance.

Give yourself a break

If you’re feeling low or struggling with your mental health, try to be kind to yourself. It’s not your fault that you feel this way and you deserve to feel better. If you don’t make it to the gym or you spend the occasional day scoffing biscuits while watching bleak TV, that’s okay.

If things don’t seem to be getting better, try speaking to a trusted friend or family member. You might also want to consider speaking to you GP who will be able to give you practical advice on how to improve your mental health. If you’re finding it really difficult to function on a daily basis, find further advice in our article on seasonal affective disorder.

Next Steps

  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • YoungMinds are the voice for young people's mental health and wellbeing.
  • SANE offers support and information to people affected by mental illness. Call their helpline on 0300 304 7000, open 4:30pm - 10:30pm every day.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Olivia Capadose

Updated on 08-Jan-2019