Winter’s Effects on Mental Health

Strategies for Coping During the Winter


Lorelai Christy

Using Your Resources: The newly added Zen Den is open for use all day at school for some peace and quiet during the day. December 12, 2022.

          During the winter, students’ mental health can deteriorate for numerous reasons.For many, winter is a cheerful time spent with loved ones. Nonetheless, for others the season may instigate new struggles. Whichever it may be, winter has found a way to make people dread it—but it doesn’t have to be that way.

          Senior Venice Montanaro says, “During the winter my mental health can struggle and decline, so I try and do self care to make myself feel better emotionally. I talk to friends, make plans, watch comfort movies, and try and focus on the positives.” 

          Montanaro makes it a part of her daily routine to practice self care and prioritize her mental health, especially during the winter.  

          School Counselor Ms. Kelianna Bonn states, “I think the biggest change we see is how dark it gets so early, which ultimately affects people’s moods…Overall, it is feelings of not being on my ‘A’ game, which can bring me down. I see this in my students, as well.” 

          Bonn discusses how she sees her students discouraged by the shorter days. Many people are more productive on longer days, but during the winter, Bonn notices the increased difficulty to feel accomplished in her students.

          School Psychologist Mrs. Michele Sumner adds, “Many people complain of having ‘SAD’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder which is said to be caused by this lack of sunlight in our lives during the winter months.” 

          Sumner explains Seasonal Affective Disorder, more popularly known by teenagers as winter depression, and its relation to the lack of sunlight in winter.

          Sumner adds, “Your mental health impacts every aspect of your life from your physical health to your ability to focus in school…It can impact your relationships with others, your motivation to do things that you previously enjoyed, your eating habits which can lead to weight gain or loss.” 

          Sumner offers a broadened perspective on mental health. Many people don’t realize that it affects multiple aspects of life. People find it easy to get wrapped up in their own struggles during winter.

          The National Institute of Mental Health states, “Research also suggests that sunlight controls the levels of molecules that help maintain normal serotonin levels, but in people with SAD, this regulation does not function properly…”

          People with Seasonal Affective Disorder suffer from their serotonin levels being off-balance due to the lack of sunlight, as mentioned before.

          Bonn offers some strategies, including, “…watching a new TV series, learning to bake, creating a plan to stay active, themed nights with your friends or family…”

          During this time of year especially, it’s important to remember your resources. Reach out to a trusted family member, friend, or trusted adult if you’re struggling this winter.