How changing seasons can affect our mental health

May 03, 2024



A change of seasons is very welcomed after the cold and bleak winters of Maine. The longer days, warmer temperatures, and budding flowers bring much-needed life into our community. While winter can often provide a sense of slowing down, springtime ushers in a natural call for activating and awakening activities. Some folks will organically make these shifts by waking up earlier, experiencing an increase in energy, and feeling more social. Others may be feeling stuck in the low energy of winter, experiencing irritability and exhaustion from the demand for more output. To this end, the transition of seasons is not smooth for everyone. Cornerstones clinicians Megan Roy, LCMHC, and Jackie Roberge, MSW, LCSW, share insight on shifts to be aware of and ways you can support your mental health during changing seasons. 



What to be aware of during changing seasons: 


  • Sleep issues

    • Adjusting our clocks for daylight savings time is intended to maximize daylight during the evening hours, but it can be disruptive to our circadian rhythm. Research shows that changing our clocks for the change of seasons leads to a collective sleep deficit, including an average of 40 minutes less sleep for individuals adjusting to this time period. Lack of sleep can cause mood changes, trouble concentrating, and physical ailments such as headaches.


  • Change in appetite

    • As we transition to warmer weather during the spring, the body naturally shifts its metabolism. While during the winter months, we crave carbohydrate-heavy comfort meals, during the warmer months we experience a decreased appetite for heavy and rich foods. It is important to allow our appetite to wane instead of resisting this natural rhythm, as it is a clear sign our bodies are successfully adapting and changing with the seasons! 



  • Shift in mood 

    • While some feel the impact of seasonal affective depression, others may experience an increase in anxiety come springtime. Winter tends to evoke symptoms of depression such as tiredness or low energy, while springtime can evoke agitation and nervous energy. Social events typically increase which can create higher expectations surrounding getting up and getting out the door. This can cause an increase in social or anticipatory anxiety for many. 


  • Comparison to peers 

    • Individuals may observe others engaging in more outdoor activities, going on more vacations, and socializing more frequently. For those struggling with depression and motivation, they may begin comparing themselves to their peers. This can lead to a sense of hopelessness because they are not experiencing the same energy shift or partaking in similar exciting events and trips. More specifically, for our young adult clients in treatment, many are watching their peers take part in school graduations and end of school year celebrations. This can lead to a sense of grief and insecurity for those not experiencing the same significant life events. 


How to support your mental health during changing seasons:


  • Reassess routine

    • The change of seasons is a great time to re-evaluate our daily routine. Winter routines can look very different from spring and summer routines. Consider integrating more time outside to take advantage of daylight and restore your vitamin D levels! 


  • Release held tension of winter

    • Just as the trees and flowers are budding, humans also hold the tension that comes with winter evolving into spring. “We need the ability to tap into tension relief and shake off the weight of winter too!” says Megan Roy. Although this need is universal, the form of release is individualized. It may look like joining a pickleball league, shooting hoops at the neighborhood basketball court, or simply incorporating longer walks. These physical expressions will release the tension valve so to speak and lead to a smoother transition into higher energy seasons. 


  • Nourish yourself seasonally 

    • Another way to integrate with changing seasons is to be aware of the shift in available produce. Local farmer markets and farm stands will be opening with bright spring vegetables and early spring fruits. Get outside, engage in your senses, and increase your energy naturally with nourishing food! 


  • Engage in community events 

    • To overcome social anxiety, one needs to engage in the very thing they fear–socializing! After a long winter of hibernation, even just reading a book or having coffee in a park where community members gather is a way to dip our toes back into social gatherings. Additionally, finding free and accessible events within our community connects us with others who may have similar interests. Whether it is a community clean-up event, a maker’s market, or a concert on the lawn, there are options for everyone! 



As we navigate the changing seasons, it is crucial to be mindful of the impact it has on our mental health. From sleep disruptions to shifts in mood and appetite, the transition can pose challenges for many. However, by staying attuned to our bodies and implementing self-care strategies, we can effectively navigate these changes. Our clinicians suggest taking the time to reassess your routine, figure out ways to release the tension accumulated during winter, and nourish yourself with seasonal foods of springtime. Additionally, engaging in community events can help alleviate social anxiety and foster a sense of connection after a winter of solitude. By prioritizing our mental well-being and embracing the opportunities each season brings, we can learn to thrive amidst change.



Written by Sabrina Marshall with contributions by Megan Roy, LMHC and Jackie Roberge, MSW, LCSW