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Combatting the Winter Blues

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

By Julie Langston and Sarah Allen-Sutter

Older man sitting by himself, with his chin on his wooden cane in front of him

Human beings are social creatures. Our connection to others enables us to survive and thrive. Yet, as we age, many of us are alone more often than when we were younger, leaving us vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness. Additionally, with fewer hours of sunlight, colder weather, and more overcast days, wintertime brings many people's mood down in a phenomenon known commonly as "the winter blues". (Some people also battle Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is clinically diagnosed and more severe and persistent.)

Here are some ways you can combat the winter blues, improving your mood and connection with others:

Older man and young adult laughing, probably father and son

Prioritize social interaction.

Actively look for ways to spend more one-on-one time connecting with others.

Visit family and friends.

Make it a point to visit with family and friends one or two days a week. If you are not able to physically visit, call them! They will be happy just to hear your voice.

Get outdoors.

Getting outdoors provides a huge range of health benefits, including improving mood, general mental health, and physical health. When the weather permits (Luckily, living in California, we are starting to have nice, sunny days again.), engaging with nature and outdoor green spaces is an effective way to combat the winter blues. See the Healthy Parks, Healthy People video to get an idea of the health benefits getting outdoors can provide.

Woman with short grey hair walking by herself on a trail in nature

Take up hobbies.

Whether it's trying something new that you've always wanted to try, or making time for your tried and true hobbies, engaging with something you enjoy doing will keep your mind engaged and happy. Even better, take up a hobby with a buddy, and get an extra mood boost from socializing while doing something you enjoy.


Unfortunately, volunteering is more difficult with the pandemic, but check to see if local schools, churches, library, or local organizations need help in any way. Even if you’re doing something at home, you’re still being part of something and engaging with your community.

Get moving.

This may be hard if it’s cold or windy outside, but try to add a few short walks daily. These are even better with a friend, and you'll get the extra benefits of being outdoors.



Click on the underlined links to access the resources.

Video showing the benefits of getting outdoors and prescribing time in nature.

Got the winter blues? Here is some animated advice.

An EngAGEd curated list on the different ways to stay connected using technology.

If technology is not for you, the above link provides ways to stay connected during the pandemic without technology. Alternatively, YHAA's Phone Friends program connects you with a phone friend who you can chat with over the phone.

See our online resource guide to find more ways to stay connected, under the category "Social Connection".


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