Photo of a solemn girl sitting in Chautauqua Park looking out over the snowy mountains.

While Colorado is known for its 300 days of sunshine, winter months can make those sunny days shorter and less frequent. For some, this seasonal shift can impact our mood, energy and outlook. Here are some tips to help you beat the winter blues.

#1 Watch for signs of seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a pattern of depression that most commonly affects people during winter months. SAD often happens as a result of the fall time change, shortened daylight hours and impacts to our routines or sleep schedules.

Symptoms of SAD include:

  • Low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in weight
  • Changes in appetite
  • Depressed mood
  • Withdrawing socially
  • Thoughts of suicide

#2 Lean into your relationships

Social support is important, whether you’re experiencing SAD or just feeling down. 

While you may not feel like you have the energy or motivation to socialize, catching up with friends, roommates or family members can help improve your mood and energy levels. Try to make plans or schedule events that you can look forward to. 

More importantly, try to avoid the urge to cancel plans at the last minute. Reaching out to trusted friends or family to let them know how you’re doing or asking for an occasional check-in with each other can help.

#3 Move your body

Oftentimes, when we think of movement, we automatically associate it with a sweat-inducing workout at the gym. However, movement can take a number of forms, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Focusing on activities that make us feel good can help relieve stress, boost our mood and give us more energy.

Try to set consistent and realistic goals for yourself each week during winter months. For instance, you may commit to going on a 10-minute walk during the day, attending one fitness class per week or planning a short hike with friends on the weekends. If you need extra motivation, invite a friend or roommate to join you. Having a workout buddy can help make it easier to stick with your goals and make physical activity more enjoyable.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out this physical activity interest worksheet to figure out what activities might be most enjoyable for you.

#4 Get outside

While it may be cooler outside, winter is a great time to enjoy the outdoors. Even if you’re not a skier, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy outside during the winter months. Here are a few to try:


If you enjoy hiking in the summer, snowshoeing is a great option to enjoy your favorite trails all year round.


When’s the last time you went sledding? Take this opportunity to enjoy a childhood favorite by visiting sledding hills nearby.

Regional attractions

Outdoor attractions like the zoo and botanic gardens are open throughout the winter. Plan a visit to enjoy a stroll around your favorite spot and catch some holiday light displays.

Build a snowman

While it may look like child’s play, building a snowman can be a great workout in the winter. Invite friends or family members to help you build your own creation after a wet snowfall. 


Missed the daylight? Bundle up with cocoa and blankets for a night of stargazing around Boulder.

#5 Set your own pace

Between finals and the holiday rush, winter months may feel like a time to speed up and do more. However, for many of us, our bodies might actually need the opposite. Listen to your body and go at your own pace this season. If socializing gives you energy, build that into your schedule or routine. If alone time is more your speed, focus on activities that can help you relax, reflect and feel rejuvenated.

#6 Focus on self-care

It can be challenging to think of self-care ideas in the moment. Help yourself prepare for stress by creating a list of go-to self-care activities. Here are a few ideas you can try:

  • Walk outside for 10 minutes
  • Write down 3 to 5 things you’re grateful for
  • Buy yourself a treat to eat or drink and take time to savor it
  • Light a scented candle or try aromatherapy to change the mood of your room
  • Doodle! Give your brain a break with some unstructured creativity
  • Call someone you enjoy talking to or haven’t seen in a while
  • Take a vacation from social media or screens in general
  • Use your phone to go on an impromptu photo shoot around your neighborhood
  • Spend 10 minutes decluttering or cleaning your space
  • Open your blinds to let the light in during the day
  • Plan a vacation for yourself, even if you don’t take it
  • Watch a show or movie that makes you laugh
  • Explore volunteer opportunities or student organizations you can join on campus

#7 Reach out for support

If your symptoms persist for more than two weeks or are worsening, it may be time to seek out additional support. Here are some resources to help:

Mental health crisis support

If you or someone you know needs same-day crisis or urgent support, please call Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) at 303-492-2277 for 24/7 support. Calling ahead allows CAPS providers to triage your concerns and help address them more quickly.

Let’s Talk

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) provides free drop-in services through Let’s Talk. Counselors are available in person and online to help provide insight, solutions and information about additional resources related to academics, stress, anxiety, substance use, relationships and more.

Peer Wellness Coaching

Meet one-on-one with a trained Peer Wellness Coach to set wellness goals and connect with campus resources. Coaches are available to help you create a plan to manage stress, time management, academics, sleep, relationships and more.

Ask an Advocate

Ask an Advocate counselors can help provide insight and information about rights and options related to traumatic experiences. People visit with questions about various topics, including Title IX, discrimination, sexual assault, intimate partner abuse, experiences of bias, harassment, stalking, assault, and other crimes or traumatic experiences.

Recreation Services

Relieve stress and boost your mood by getting active. You can visit the Rec Center to enjoy a workout, join a fitness class or check out trips and courses offered by the Outdoor Program. They also have personal training services, nutrition support and other wellness services available for students.