Wellbeing & Motivation > How Winter Impacts Mental Health & How to Manage it

How Winter Impacts Mental Health & How to Manage it

21st Sep 21

Winter can be a happy season for many reasons. However, the colder days and longer nights can cause many to pause their normal activities. Becoming detached is common during winter and can result in a negative impact on mental health. Therefore, it is important to look at the various reasons this can happen. So, we have gathered some common causes and focused on how to improve mental health in winter. 

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Short Days, Long Nights

Winter brings limited sunshine, not just due to the cold weather, but days become shorter too. The lack of daylight can cause us to feel sluggish and sleepy. This is because our bodies produce less serotonin when we see limited sunlight. Instead, we produce more melatonin which signals the body to prepare for sleep. Therefore, our moods are less regulated due to a lack of serotonin, and we can enter hibernation mode. This sleepiness can be hard to shake off and have a big impact on mental health in winter.

Cold Weather

a winding country road in winter with a road sign showing a risk of snow and ice

Extreme weather changes can also bring changes in your mood. When it is cold outside, it is normal to feel reluctant to leave the house or even bed! Grey skies and low temperatures can cause many to no longer feel enthusiastic about plans. It can also cause stress as travelling can sometimes be dangerous, or severe weather warnings become more frequent. These factors can result in a decline in mental health. 


The cold weather also brings with it a higher risk of contracting an illness. The common flu and sore throats are more easily spread during the season and can impact your mental health. No one feels their best when they are ill. However, this also comes with the added downside of having to postpone seeing loved ones or being unable to go to work.  The unnecessary added stress is a major factor in the decline of mental health. 


Unfortunately, the winter weather can affect not only our minds but also our appearance. As the atmosphere gets colder, skin is more likely to appear dry, and our complexions become more washed out. Whilst this does not seem to directly impact mental health, for some, this change in appearance can create negative emotions. This is understandable because it is hard to feel good in yourself when you do not feel confident in how you look. 

How To Enjoy Winter

Making the Most Out of the Sunlight

In order to get the serotonin you need, it is important to make the most of the daylight. Being exposed to sunlight releases the serotonin hormone and helps stabilise our moods, and creates a feeling of happiness. That is why it is important to take walks and enjoy the fresh air. 

Plan Ahead

closeup of a man cleaning snow from a car windshield with a brush

The winter season and cold weather can bring all kinds of stress, so make sure to plan ahead. Changes in the weather can cause people to flood to supermarkets or slow down traffic, creating unnecessary stress for you. So, it is always helpful to organise your travel plans ahead of time and to stock up on necessities, as these little things can help your mental health in winter. 

Visit the Doctor

It is clear that mental and physical health can both be impacted by the winter season. Therefore, it is important to get help if you need it. If you ever feel like you are not at your best, then be sure to visit your doctor and get the treatment you need. 


Exercise is a great way to improve your mental health. A healthy body can help towards a healthy mind. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins which help relieve pain and reduce emotional stress. Exercise can also improve our sense of well-being and self-esteem. However, we understand that it can be hard to stay on top of exercising during winter so be sure to read our article on How To Stay Motivated To Exercise.


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.