Navigating Winter Depression

navigating winter depressionWinter depression or SAD (seasonal affective disorder) I believe is a real thing. And lately, I have heard enough people mention “depression” that it definitely indicates there might be a trend.

Winter has been here long enough!

But depending on where you live, spring might still be a ways off and too far off to even begin counting the days. So what do you do?

Navigating Winter Depression

Here are some strategies that can help you to deal with winter depression if you are finding yourself longing for brighter, sunnier, and warmer days.

  1. Get out there and don’t isolate yourself. – One of the easiest traps that people fall into during the winter is to spend less time with others. It is always easier and often desired to just hole up at home in front of the TV and trying to stay warm. Get out there and spend time with family and friends – even better if you are doing things and being active. It’s always important to maintain contact with a positive group of peers and in the winter time, especially when winter keeps dragging on, even more so.
  2. Take care of your physical health. – Just as it is important to maintain your social connections during the winter, it is also important to take care of physical health and to stay active. Staying active by regularly exercising does help you feel more happy and confident and more positive about yourself. Exercise is just as beneficial to the mind as it is the body, and when it comes to batting winter depression probably even more so.
  3. Get out into the sunlight! – I have always struggled with winter depression myself and what I learned that helps me the most is to make sure that I get out every day for at least an hour and soak up some of the mid day sun. It really makes a difference and what I try to do is to use all of three of these tips together… meet up with a friend during the middle of the day and go for a run while being out in the sun the entire time. That is just one of the ways that I manage my winter depression and for me it does work.

It can be difficult to maintain a positive mindset when you don’t remember the last time you saw grass instead of snow or remember the last time that you actually felt warm. But just like winter itself and the grey skies that come along with it, winter depression can and will eventually fade away with the coming months of warmth and sunshine.

How do you handle winter depression? Do you have any tips that you can share that can help others who are struggling with the blahs of dealing with winter?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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Photo By Andy Wooten 15 November 2009


  1. I’ve never really understood why so many people don’t go outdoors in the wintertime. My wife and I joke that during the colder months we won’t see our neighbors at all (a few we see, but most stay inside), and then in the spring the neighborhood comes outdoors and it’s like a reunion. I am a firm believer that many of the mental health challenges (not all, but many) people face could be addressed by getting outside, breathing in fresh air, and being physically active.

    • 3peaksblog says:

      When I was younger Wyatt I would have never really ran during the winter. But once I became a year-round runner in 2007 or so, it was then that I discovered how much “happier” I was during the winter than I had ever been before. Whenever I catch my mood down during the winter months I can usually attribute to not getting enough sunlight, ie I am running either too early or too late in the day. This is one of the reasons my mid-day run during the winter is non-negotiable. I really need it.

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