The Virtual Vine Blog

Insights and information about concussion health and a smarter recovery. Plus timely tips for your everyday well-being – from food and exercise, to meditation and mindfulness.

 Tags: Mental Health


Bogged down by the winter blues? You’re not alone. Feeling a dip in mental health is a common experience for a lot of people when the weather gets colder. Luckily, there are ways to help improve your mental health during the winter months.

Knowing where to begin can feel overwhelming. To help you get started, we’ve rounded up 10 winter mental health tips based on expert advice.

Why Does Mental Health Tend to Get Worse in the Winter?

The cold weather typically brings more time spent inside, which means getting less sunshine and Vitamin D than you do in the warmer months. Your body produces less serotonin, which is responsible for mood balance, and more melatonin, which contributes to sleepiness and lethargy. Typically, you’re also exercising and socializing less, all of which can cause irritability, low energy, and anxiety.

In the early winter, some may experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that’s seasonal and is triggered by changing levels of sunlight. If you experience depressive symptoms that last more than a week and are recurring over several days, it’s a good idea to reach out to your doctor to get support.

How can I improve my mental health in the winter?

There’s no wrong place to start and there are many practices you can engage in. Maintaining good mental health means taking care of different components of life including social, diet, and more.  

We’ve compiled a list of 10 winter mental health tips to kick-start your winter mental health regimen.  

10 Winter Mental Health Tips To Improve Your Mood

  1. Practice meditation and mindfulness
    Meditation and mindfulness are excellent ways to manage your stress and build resilience. It stimulates the pineal gland, which creates serotonin and melatonin and relaxes the brain.

    There are many ways to incorporate this into your daily life, including mindful eating and walks, or meditating in the morning. You may find that repetitive activities, such as knitting and coloring, also engage the meditative part of your brain.  
  1. Make plans
    Book something in your calendar that you can look forward to, like a trip or a visit to the museum. Making plans helps the brain engage in proactive coping (future-oriented thinking), which helps reduce stress.  
  1. Socialize with friends and loved ones
    As mentioned previously, a tendency to den and stay inside in winter months can also mean a lack of socialization. 

    It’s important to stay connected with your networks. It increases your happiness and brain health and promotes a feeling of security, belonging, and community, as well as general well-being. It also boasts long-term benefits like better cognition and memory and lowering your risk of developing dementia 
  1. Exercise regularly
    Exercise is a great way to improve your feelings of anxiety and depression. It releases endorphins and serotonin which make you feel happy and boosts your self-confidence. Getting more exercise can be as simple as incorporating walks outside when it’s sunny and moving meetings to phone calls where possible to make sure you’re getting some Vitamin D.  
  1. Get your daily dose of sunlight
    Winter months bring short days, which means less sunlight, especially when life gets busy. Serotonin levels get a boost from sunlight and Vitamin D, but if you’re not able to get outside often, try taking Vitamin D supplements or doing light therapy.  
  1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
    Your brain and body are linked, so taking care of your body often means taking care of your mind too. Exercise regularly and try to aim to get 8 hours of sleep. There’s nothing wrong with indulging, but make sure you maintain a healthy diet that avoids excessively processed foods and drink alcohol in moderation. Your mood is also linked to your gut microbiome, so take advantage of adding plant-based fiber and fermented foods to your diet.  
  1. Practice regular self-care
    Engage in stress-reducing practices such as journaling, attending therapy, reframing, and stress-reducing exercises like yoga and tai chi. It’s also healthy to practice interrupting negative thought loops and rumination with a grounding meditation and other mindfulness practices. 
  1. Take time to unplug
    Try to manage how much news you read on a daily basis and unplug from electronic devices. Doing this helps reduce stress, loneliness, jealousy, and anxiety. Use this time away from your devices to engage in interpersonal relationships and other meaningful activities, which can boost your quality of life. Try reading a book or listening to an album. Listening to music boosts dopamine levels, which activates the brain’s reward system and makes you feel happy.  
  1. Learn something new
    Try taking up a craft, join a sports team, or take classes to learn a new skill or language. Learning something new helps reduce anxiety and depression, and directly improves your quality of life, self-esteem, and boosts optimism.  
  1. Know when to seek medical help
    Seasonal Affective Disorder is a serious condition that affects approximately 10% of reported cases of depression. It’s important to notice and understand the signs of depression and seek help from a doctor if you are experiencing them on a regular basis. 

    Signs include: 

    • Lethargy 
    • Suicidal/harmful thoughts 
    • Difficulty concentrating 
    • Sleeplessness or excessive sleeping 
    • Disinterest in enjoyable activities 
    • Feeling guilt or worthlessness 

While the winter blues can feel difficult, low mood is something that can be improved. Start small and add in new activities and habits as you can. 

To learn more about incorporating additional mental health practices in your daily life, check out our recommended reading list and our blogs on the Virtual Vine. 


Subscribe To The Virtual Vine Blog

Let Us Know What You Thought about this Post.

Put your Comment Below.