My Top Tips for Dealing with Seasonal Mood Swings

Aaron Burden

Bad weather can really effect our moods, especially when it’s unexpected. Read on to find out my top 8 tips for keeping my mood light even when the weather is crappy.

Depending on where you live (in the U.S. at least), it may have felt like we skipped straight from summer to winter weather. In Cincinnati, this definitely seemed to be the case. As late as early October, we had weather up to the 80s; a mere week or two later, suddenly it was gloomy and a high of 50.

Having grown up in Denver, I was always used to sunny winters. Even if the actual temperature outside was quite cold, we would always end up shedding our coats at recess because the sun helped to make everything seem warmer.


Since then, I’ve realized that living in places that don’t have particularly sunny winters – like St. Louis, London, and Cincinnati thus far – can really take a toll on my overall mood. I don’t think I have full-blown S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but I definitely notice a change in my overall disposition as the winter months drag on.

As I’ve been thinking about ways to get myself through the gloom of winter, I wanted to share a few tips that have come to mind! Without further ado, here we go:

1. Before the cold weather fully sets in, do your best to get outdoors as much as possible. Studies have shown that looking at nature (especially greenery) can help improve your mood and increase happiness, so take advantage of spending some time with Mother Nature before the trees become bare! While the weather was still pleasant, I took a stroll through the gardens of a local park and it was incredibly peaceful.

2. If possible, check out your local conservatory. If you missed the chance to get outside before the temperatures dropped, see if your city has a conservatory! Conservatories are great because they’re typically open year-round and will house a variety of plant species. Not only will you get a mood improvement, but you might learn something along the way.

3. Find fun indoor events, especially ones that will stimulate your brain. These could include anything from museum exhibits to indoor wine tastings or food festivals. Be sure to see what’s going in your city and try something new!

4. Make or buy your favorite cold-weather drink (and snacks). You know the usual choices: hot chocolate, apple cider, mulled wine, hot toddies – the list goes on! When you make the effort to create or find your favorite fall/winter beverage, it will make the whole experience feel like a treat. And, if you happen to find some yummy snacks to accompany the drink? Even better!

5. Schedule some well-deserved cuddle time. Whether it’s with your S.O., a beloved pet (IF they like being held), or just a great friend, be sure to spread the love and share warm hugs whenever possible! Cuddling releases oxytocin, which not only serves as the famed “bonding” chemical, but can also help to lower blood pressure and stress levels. So, cuddle to your heart’s content!

6. Try to exercise at least once a week. Bonus points if you can make it through a heated class, like hot yoga. Not only will you be getting out of your home and challenging your body, but you’ll also be able to warm yourself up and break a sweat before braving the cold weather again. Note: if you’re trying hot yoga for the first time, be sure to thoroughly hydrate and pace yourself during class.

7. When all else fails, curl up with a good book or your favorite TV show. We all have a show that we never get sick of re-watching, or a book that we’ve re-read dozens of times and still love it to pieces. Whichever is the case for you, schedule some downtime and get to watching/reading! My personal favorites right now are my collection of Jill Mansell books (British romantic comedies) and Brooklyn Nine Nine on Hulu.


8. Above all: allow yourself to feel the gloom when it comes, and then do something that makes you happy. As with most negative thoughts or feelings, it’s mostly futile to ignore or force them away. Ultimately, the bad vibes will come back at some point. Instead, acknowledge what’s going through your mind and allow yourself to feel whatever that is. Then, give yourself permission to do something that will make you happy.


I hope that some of these tips are helpful as winter sets in! Here’s a bonus tip for those of you who have the time and budget to travel during the winter months: try scheduling a trip to a place with warmer weather. Even if it’s just for a weekend, the respite from cold weather will help to energize you and make the rest of the winter season feel shorter. For example, I just went to Florida this past weekend for my university’s homecoming…and let me tell you, I’m definitely holding onto memories of sun and ocean as I write this. 🙂

If at least one of these tips were helpful for you, show them some love in the comments below!

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