During the winter months, the colder weather and shorter days can affect how we may be feeling. If you’re struggling, we’ve gathered some tips and resources to help you cope this winter.
⚠️ We're updating the information on this page in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. The advice on this page may change as the situation continues to develop.
Page updated: 11 January 2021
This winter, many of us are facing new challenges in addition to the harsher weather. It is normal that short days and colder weather may affect your mental health. You’re not alone in feeling like this. There are all sorts of reasons you may find this time of year difficult, and it’s OK to feel this way.
At Samaritans, we’re committed to helping you if you’re struggling to cope, however we can. Our volunteers are working hard to minimise disruption to our services and support anyone who needs us. While it may take us a little longer to answer the phone or respond to emails, we're still here, 365 days a year.
We know that we won't be able to spend our time as we may have in previous winters. This doesn’t mean that there aren't things that you can do that may help if you’re feeling more tired or stressed than usual. During these months, it is more important than ever to look after our mental health and wellbeing. Spending time with nature, taking time for ourselves, finding new routines and reaching out to others can help you cope if you are feeling low.
We’ve gathered some tips and resources to help you make the most of the winter months.
Spending time outdoors
- Enjoying nature. Whatever way you can, taking some time to enjoy the outdoors can have a positive effect on your mood. If you aren't able to leave the house right now, make sure your curtains or blinds are open to let the natural light in.
- Wrap up warm. Enjoying time outdoors doesn’t have to stop at this time of year. In fact, it’s more important than ever during these months to try and spend time outside during the day. If you can, use your daily outdoor exercise time to enjoy the changing seasons or crisp mornings.
- Get active. Exercise can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and other difficult feelings. There are lots of different ways to be active, whether you are starting off with a brisk walk or trying a free online exercise class indoors. Setting goals with others is a great way to stay motivated. Try teaming up with others in your household or bubble, or taking part in an online challenge.
Take time for yourself
- Pay attention to how you are feeling. Our self-help web app can help you track your mood and includes practical tips and techniques to help you look after your emotional health.
- Make time for something you enjoy. It could be doing something creative, watching a favourite movie or visiting your local park or garden for half an hour in the sun. Even stepping away and taking a five-minute break over a cup of tea could help you relax and recharge.
- Take a break from the news and social media. If you find it hard to stay offline, prioritising other activities can help you switch it off. Try turning off your notifications or leaving your phone in another room for a few hours. If your job involves lots of screen time, taking a break away from your devices after work might help to give you some head-space to relax.
Find your balance
- Try a relaxation exercise. Sometimes something simple like controlled breathing can help us feel calmer. Muscle relaxation exercises can also help reduce feelings of stress or anxiety. If you can, find a quiet space and try out the exercises we’ve linked to. They’re easy to memorise and can be practiced almost anywhere.
- Set short-term goals. If you are struggling with feelings of uncertainty, planning your day or week ahead may help you stay focused on the things you can control. Breaking up the things you need to do into a list of smaller tasks can help if you are feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated.
- Be kind to yourself. Last year was a difficult year, and it’s normal if you are feeling tired or burned-out. It can be hard not to compare ourselves to others, especially on social media. It is important to take time to rest and look after yourself.
- Talk about how you’re feeling. Talking can help put things into perspective and help us feel less isolated. It may help you feel more positive about the future. It can be hard to reach out but talking to a trusted friend or family member is something we’d encourage you to try, however you can.
- You are never alone. If you don’t have family or friends close by or don’t feel like there’s anyone you can talk to, Samaritans volunteers are here for you. Call free, day or night, on 116 123 or email [email protected] More information can be found on our contact a Samaritan page.
Take two minutes to try a relaxation exersise
If you’re finding things hard this winter
If you’re worried about someone else
- We've put together some advice on how to support someone you're worried about during the pandemic
- Our How to support someone you're worried about pages also include guidance on signs that someone may not be OK
- Happiful also have some tips for ways to support children’s mental health this winter
Coping over the winter months
- Happiful have advice on how to tackle the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Age UK have some advice on how to keep well during winter
If you’re worried about your finances
- Age UK have some advice to help you manage your money in winter
- Every Mind Matters have some tips for coping with money worries and job uncertainty
Working from home
- Helpline have put together a list of work from home tips, including tips for those with kids and advice on taking effective breaks.
If you're a key worker
Through Our Frontline, we offer round-the-clock one-to-one support, by call or text, from trained volunteers, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after your mental health. Find out more about our key worker support service here.