How Can I Improve My Mood in the Winter?

How Can I Improve My Mood in the Winter?

Spring renews, summer warms, and fall provides relief from the heat of August. But winter… many struggle to find much joy in the season beyond the initial sprinkle of a few snowflakes in early December. And yet, over time, I’ve learned to do more than just tolerate our Canadian winters. I’ve learned to accept winter as an inevitable rest period from the “garish light of day” (for all you Phantom of the Opera fans out there).  

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) should not be ignored, however. It is defined by the Cleveland Clinic as “a type of depression that is triggered by the change of seasons and most commonly begins in late fall. Symptoms include feelings of sadness, lack of energy, loss of interest in usual activities, oversleeping and weight gain.” If you feel you have these symptoms you should consult your medical doctor for treatment or visit for more resources.

For less severe winter blues, there are a few things I’ve found that help as the days get shorter:

  1. Getting Outside -  EVERY day! Sun or not. Light exposure beyond the lighting in the house or office really can help elevate mood.
  2. Moving - Even just a walk outside. Anything to get the blood flowing. With the proper outerwear, you can go outside every day of the year!
  3. Cooking - Fall and winter are great times to up the game in adding new wholesome recipes to your rotation. Soups, stews, and chillies are great places to add more vegetables.
  4. Visiting a Friend - It’s easy to hide inside, but making the effort to meet up with a friend for a coffee or walk can really fill your cup.
  5. Eliminating or Reducing Alcohol - It’s easy to hunker in for the evening and have some drinks to pass the time. You only need to do one Google search to see that there are a host of scholarly articles that correlate alcohol misuse with SAD. Some suggest that it may be tied to increased cravings for carbohydrates, which is typical in the winter months. So cravings for alcohol can be more frequent and intense when the days are darker. However, alcohol is a depressant so the buzz you get from a couple of drinks is very short-lived and the crash can be hard.
  6. Accepting the Season - I’ve tried to refrain from complaining about the weather. The weather is not personal and doesn’t care what I think. This is where my gratitude practice is helpful. Snow helps drought, provides a plethora of winter activities for children and families and is very pretty when it gathers and sparkles on a tree bough. 

Let’s not forget the joy that can be found both in connecting during the season and finding blissful moments of solitude. 

Happy Sipping,


Margaret is a Certified Professional Life Coach, Certified Professional Recovery Coach and a Certified She Recovers Coach. She holds a B.A in Psychology, a Masters Degree in Education and has worked in the field of Education for over 30 years.

If you feel you could be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), consult with your medical doctor or visit for more resources.

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