Looking after your mental health while shifting into winter:

The shift into the colder months can also change your emotions, energy levels and general wellness. It is just as important to stay on top of your mental health and recognise changes as much as your physical.

The middle of winter can be a notoriously hard time to stay in good mental health due to a lack of sun and reduction in vitamin D as well as those rainy cold days keeping you and your family indoors. Some people might also find that they suffer from SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that is caused by the change of season.

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs over autumn and winter and improves during spring and summer. If you are suffering from SAD and you have to endure these darker months, there are many things you can do to manage this condition.

Like depression, SAD can affect how you feel and behave for weeks or months at a time and is commonly experienced by many. While it is normal to feel less energetic and experience an increase in appetite over winter, however, if you are finding your mood or habits are changing a lot, you may have SAD.

Symptoms of SAD include:

  • depressed
  • low mood for extended periods
  • your sleep is disrupted
  • low energy levels
  • hard to maintain relationships
  • low job performance
  • loss or increase of appetite

If you are feeling negatively affected by the change of seasons, or you are not feeling quite right then don’t ignore these shifts in your mental wellness. You can talk to your doctor, or you can try a range of different exercises to reduce the negative feelings.

If this is something, you find yourself or a family member suffering from there are ways to reduce the impact of seasonal change. Developing habits in the summer months that you can carry over into the winter months can help you with the transition into winter. 

Increasing your mood may be as easy as staying out in the sun for a time each day, taking vitamin D supplements, trying to exercise daily even if it is a 15min walk around the block, ensuring you are keeping a balanced diet and eating healthy foods, getting fresh air into your home which can mean opening your windows for a short time if it particularly cold during the day before you turn on the heating, staying in contact with loved ones or friends and always get support or expert advice if you are feeling like your mood is not shifting.

If you notice a family member, friend or workmate who may be experiencing any of the above symptoms we recommend a simple check-in to see if they are okay or need any support, it can make the world of difference. It can be a very isolating and lonely time when experiencing any negative feelings and habits. Showing you compassionately care in a safe space can mean so much to that affected person and can be the start of their journey to reaching out and getting help if they need it.

Your community pharmacist has treatments available to help you to deal with some of the effects of seasonal mood change such as relevant health supplements, and exercise-related products, make sure you see your local pharmacist if you are needing any advice or relief. If you are worried about your symptoms or feel like your mood and habits are getting worse, talk to your doctor.

National helplines

The services listed here are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week unless otherwise specified.

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP).

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat.

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).

Healthline – 0800 611 116



Disclaimer: This article provides general information only. It is not intended as medical or health advice and should not be relied on as a substitute for consultation with a qualified healthcare professional who understands your individual medical needs.

Golden Bay Pharmacy

Welcome to Golden Bay Pharmacy, our professional and friendly team are here to help with all your health and wellbeing needs. Located in the heart of Takaka township we’re proud to serve the vibrant Golden Bay community and all those who visit.