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How to cope with winter blues

Christine, one of our clinicians, shares her top tips for coping with seasonal mood changes.

Waking up to find that it’s still dark outside can make you want to nestle into the duvet and forget about the day. Add to that finishing school, work or daily tasks only to face more dark and cold. It’s no wonder that sometimes the winter months can contribute to low mood.

If this struggle is recognisable, you’re not alone. During the winter months many of us face changes in our mood and motivation. For some people, the physiological and environmental changes that occur in the winter months can pile on and profoundly impact our functioning. These factors can contribute to poor mental health. When these seasonal changes start to significantly impact our day-to-day life, it’s referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is different from depression because the symptoms are connected with the seasons. Symptoms generally appear in the fall and winter and subside or improve during the spring and summer months.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

It’s important to reach out to a medical professional if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It may be helpful to become familiar with the symptoms of SAD to know when it might be time to seek support. Here are some of the common symptoms:

  • Changes in sleep. Noticing you are sleeping more or less than usual or struggling to fall/ stay asleep.
  • Changes in mood. Feeling like your senses are muted or you’re low, guilty, or hopeless.
  • Decrease in energy. Noticing that it takes more effort to do tasks than usual.
  • Loss of interest or joy. Not feeling as passionate, enthusiastic, or interested in activities as you once were.
  • Concentration struggles. Having trouble staying on one task or feeling distracted easily.
  • Irritation. Experiencing feelings of being irked, nervous, or anxious more than usual.
  • Social withdrawal. Noticing you are spending less time with friends or family and feeling an urge to be alone or like spending time with others is too much effort.
  • Change in eating habits. Noticing that you are gaining or losing weight, eating more or less or having new cravings.
  • Change in sex drive. Feeling like you have a lower sex drive or don’t want to be touched.
  • Using substances. Experiencing cravings or using more drugs/ alcohol.

While a Shout 85258 volunteer cannot diagnose you, reaching out by texting 85258 can be a helpful first step to get connected with the support you deserve.

How to Cope with Seasonal Mood Changes

If you’re struggling with mood changes this winter you’re not alone. There are many things you can do to boost your wellbeing. When the winter months feel overwhelming, start small. Consider incorporating one small habit into your daily routine to provide some joy and relief. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Let the light in. First thing, turn on all the lights in your room and open blinds to allow as much light in as possible.
  • Spend time outside. Challenge yourself to get some natural light outside everyday. Remember you can start small with a five minute walk down your street.
  • Connect. Respond to that unanswered text or call that friend you haven't talked to in a while. If a call feels like too much, remember a text saying “thinking of you” can be enough to boost feelings of connection.
  • Turn up the tunes. Music is known to boost mood. If you’re struggling to find the motivation to get out of bed or move, some upbeat music can help.
  • Morning routine. Build joy into your morning. Set aside 30 minutes to listen to a podcast, read, stretch, or something else that brings you joy. Having something to look forward to first thing vs. jumping right into responsibilities can help with motivation.

If you’re struggling, Shout 85258 is there for you 24/7. No matter what the winter months bring you don’t have to face it alone. Reach out to one of our trainer volunteers by texting 85258 for support with winter blues.