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How you can beat the Winter Blues

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Nov 2013; updated May 2023.

Don't feel down this Winter. Here are some tips so you can avoid the Winter Blues.

Don't feel down this Winter. Here are some tips for beating the Winter Blues.

I don't know about you, but my body almost wants to hibernate during the winter.

I am an early riser and up long before anyone else during summer. However, after the clocks go back, I find getting up in the dark mornings difficult. And by the end of the day, I'm done.

I find I want to eat more too...... Hang on a moment. Bears eat a lot and then sleep through Winter. Maybe I have some bear DNA somewhere in me!

Am I a bit SAD?

Having the 'Winter Blues' is quite common. There's a lull after Halloween before the festive season starts (despite the shops now trying to start Christmas in September) and another lull after Christmas until March.

SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, used to be dismissed by the medical profession, but after some research studies, it does appear that us humans are influenced by the dark days of Winter.

The NHS has a web page on the topic Beating the winter blues - Stress, anxiety and depression, and says that around 2 million people in the UK (12 million across Northern Europe) are affected.

Although the NHS article focuses a lot on more serious 'depression' that it can cause, we can all get the milder form: Winter Blues.

If you think back to bright sunny days in Winter, didn't you feel more energy then?

What about the kids?

SAD affects children too, but severe 'depression' is typically only in the range of 18 to 30 years old.

However, you know all too well that sometimes kids can climb the walls if stuck inside too long.

Tips for Beating the Winter Blues

Fortunately, a few recommended tips can help if you get the Winter Blues.

Get Active

Exercise can help lift your mood, and the NHS recommend a 1-hour walk every day.

Have you ever heard of the Runner's High? The 'high' is where runners reach a point where the run lifts their mood (I'm a runner and can vouch for this). Exercise releases endorphins that can help improve your mood.

It is thought that a regular exercise programme can even help with depression (see this Harvard Medical School article).

Get Outside

Being outside can help. The brighter light, the fresh air, and of course, you are usually doing some exercise.

Some research indicates that just getting outside could reduce the risk of severe illness (see this article on the benefits of being outside).

Keep Warm

The NHS say that being cold makes you more depressed.  I don't know about depression, but being wet and cold can make you miserable.

Going outside during the Winter, you will want to wear the correct clothing. If you're taking your kids outside, you must ensure they are dressed correctly too.

See our guide to layering clothes to keep warm.

Get some Daylight

Bright sunny days can lift everyone's mood.

Research has also shown that the lack of light may be one of the biggest factors with SAD and Winter Blues, as well as potentially more severe issues (see this article on the benefits of being outside for details).

Of course, even if you get outside as much as you can, there's not a lot of sunshine around in the Winter.

You can get some daylight simulators.  But some are a bit pricey, though, and a little unattractive.

Some lightbulbs emit the same spectrum as daylight that you can use in standard lamp fittings, but of course, make sure you don't have a lamp shade that will hide the benefits of the light.

Do you not also find that spirits lift a bit when it snows too? Perhaps it has something to do with the snow reflecting little daylight.


So to me, it looks like the steps for beating the Winter Blues are quite simple:

  1. Eat some good (healthy) food
  2. Wrap up warm (correctly, in proper outdoor clothing)
  3. Get outside and go for a hike 😉