Managing the Winter Blues During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As we are in the midst of the winter season and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are feeling lethargic, pessimistic, and withdrawn. The chilly weather and early evening sunsets can have a significant impact on our moods, and when coupled with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important now than ever to take consistent inventory of our mental health. Whether you are simply feeling a mild case of the winter blues or living with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), these simple tips can make a big difference as we long for springtime.

Seek Out the Sun
Did you know that the sun has a direct impact on our mood? Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of serotonin, the hormone in our brain responsible for mood stabilization and feelings of happiness. When it’s released, serotonin will cause one to feel calmer, happier, and more focused. The sun we soak up during the day also has a direct impact on the quality of sleep we get at night. It can be easy to avoid leaving the house when temperatures drop, especially since many of us are working from home and maintaining social distance, but opening the shades inside to let as much sunlight in as possible can make a big difference.

Stay Active
Similar to sun exposure, exercise relates directly to our mood. Just 30 minutes of movement each day alleviates stress, improves physical health, and releases endorphins, which are often referred to as “feel-good neurotransmitters”. To maximize mental health benefits, try to get moving outside while maintaining social distance. A short walk around the neighborhood provides a change of scenery, fresh air, and exposure to sunlight. 

Though large in-person gatherings are not currently recommended per CDC guidelines, it is still possible to check in with family and friends in other ways. Technology has made it easier than ever to communicate from a distance. A video chat or phone call with loved ones can keep feelings of loneliness and sadness at bay for yourself and those in your inner circle.

Stick to a Routine
It is tempting to curl up in bed and feel lazy when the sun sets before dinner and free time is abundant, but developing and adhering to a routine is a simple way to battle sadness. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule helps to improve mood and feel better throughout the day. Jotting down responsibilities and tasks to be completed garners focus and purpose, and checking off the to-do list at the end of each day can provide a fulfilling sense of accomplishment. 

*For more information about COVID-19, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s website at

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