Experts offer 4 key strategies to beat winter blues

Were you able to get together with friends and family this holiday season? For many seniors, this was the first time in a couple of years they were able to enjoy holiday gatherings—although sometimes with health precautions still in place.

Despite the anticipation and joy of the holidays, you might still be caught off guard by the “winter blues” that can follow.

For example, you may feel sad or irritable, want to isolate yourself, not go outside, or simply sit on the couch. “Winter blues is a general term, not a medical diagnosis. It’s fairly common, and it’s more mild than serious. It usually clears up on its own in a fairly short amount of time,” says the National Institutes of Health’s Dr. Matthew Rudofera*. The winter blues are often connected to a specific event, he notes, such as the holidays triggering memories of absent loved ones.

The good news is there are tried and true ways to combat the winter blues; here’s what the experts say:

Feel the feelings*. It’s not always healthy to try and suppress feelings; instead, let the tears flow, which helps to release “feel-good” endorphins that can help to manage physical and mental pain. While it may seem like a cliché, the saying, “This too shall pass,” are words to live by.

Take baby steps*. If the idea of going out seems overwhelming, consider improving your mood with small, easily achievable goals. Experiment with small changes such as going for a short, 10-minute walk. This can help shift negative thoughts and pave the way for more progress.

Practice the basics*. Eat a healthy diet. Stick to a sleep schedule. Move as much as you possibly can. Increase your exposure to light by bundling up and getting outside or spending time by a sunny window.

Stay connected to others*. Call friends and family. Talk to others, and be open to sharing your feelings. Do a good deed by reaching out to someone else with a kind word, an invitation for a cup of coffee, or a walk together.

If your feelings of sadness, insomnia and mood swings continue for more than a couple of weeks, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)*, a form of depression often linked to lower levels of sunlight in winter months. For any changes in your mental or physical health, it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional.

Wondering how Chartwell residents are beating the winter blues? Visit our Facebook page to learn more!

*The following sources provide references for this blog, in order of appearance:

  1. NIH News in HEalth. "Beat the Winter Blues"(2013), Online:
  2. Mental Health Commission of Canada. "Seven ways to cope with the winter blues"(2022), Online:
  3. The BRINK. "How to Overcome the Winter Blues amid COVID Uncertainty"(2022), Online:
  4. Canadian Mental Health Association. "Coping with the winter blues"(2017), Online:
  5. The BRINK. "How to Overcome the Winter Blues amid COVID Uncertainty"(2022), Online:
  6. camh. "Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)", Online:,Seasonal%20affective%20disorder%20is%20a%20type%20of%20depression%20that%20occurs,linked%20symptoms%20in%20the%20summer.