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How Seasonal Transitions Can Impact Your Emotional Health

Sep 20, 2023

The changing of seasons has an impact on your life, from the way you dress, to the food you eat, to the activities you engage in, to the way you decorate the exterior and interior of your home. If you are like me, the scent of your soap and candles reflects the season you are in too! In addition to impacting all of these things, the change of seasons can also have a significant influence on your mood and emotional health. In this blog, I will explore ways in which your emotional health can be impacted by the change of seasons, as well as offer some tips for navigating these changes effectively.


If you have heard about how a change of season can impact your mood, it is likely related to cooler seasons. As the days get shorter and the temperatures get cooler, many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or “The Winter Blues”. This is a type of depression that typically occurs during the fall and winter months. The reduced exposure to sunlight during this time can impact natural circadian rhythms and can lead to feelings of sadness, lethargy, and even hopelessness. 


What is important to note about Seasonal Affective Disorder, is that it is not limited to only the winter / cooler months. There are many individuals who don’t respond well to the heat and find themselves isolating and disconnecting from others during the warmer months. Some more recent studies have shown that more individuals are having this experience as global warming is creating even warmer temperatures in the summer.


Spring can often feel like a time of year where there is a sense of renewal as the days get longer and shrubs and flowers start to bloom. This is a time of year where many people start spending more time outside exercising, doing gardening or yard work, and socializing. For some people, motivation increases so there is an increased sense of productivity, however, this is not the experience of all individuals. Some individuals experience their moods at their lowest going into the spring months. This could be related to seasonal allergies, pressure to be more social, a disruption of sleep due to increased sunlight, or a reminder that once again, those new year’s resolutions fell by the wayside.


Summer can have a whole different vibe due to many students and teachers being home, family vacations taking place, and spending more time outside. This can result in increased engagement in enjoyable activities, however, summer can also create some challenges. These could be challenges related to schedule changes and kids having less structure in their days, or these could be challenges related to it being swimsuit season and increased body image concerns. In addition, as I mentioned above, the heat of summer can be stressful for some individuals.


Finally, the cooler temperatures of fall can offer some individuals relief from the summer heat, in addition to bringing increased structure and routines back for many families with children returning to school. Many people find the crisp air and turning and falling leaves to bring about a sense of peace. While this is true for many, the cooler air for some brings about worry related to increased depressive symptoms, or worry about holiday stress.


The emotional health of some individuals is significantly impacted by the change of seasons, while others do not experience any noticeable changes. Regardless of what your experience has been up until now, there are some things you can do to help you manage your emotional health all year long.


  • Maintain a regular exercise routine. Even if your routine needs to change from an outdoor routine to an indoor routine, keeping consistent with exercise will help to stabilize your mood.


  • Maintain a healthy diet. Many people eat different food based on the season, however, a change of season can also lead to craving certain foods that can feel “comforting”. Even if the types of foods or flavor profiles change with the seasons, maintaining healthy eating habits will support your overall mood.


  • Maintain a consistent routine overall. To the extent that you are able, maintain consistency in your schedule including wake up and sleep times.


  • Try light therapy. Many of my clients find this helpful, especially during the winter. Light boxes can simulate natural sunlight and can help regulate your sleep patterns, as well as your mood.


  • Practice mindfulness and meditation. Both of these practices can help you manage unhelpful thinking patterns, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being.


  • Be intentional about social connections. It can be easier to isolate when temperatures are extreme or when it gets dark earlier, however, positive social connections can support overall emotional health. Because of this, it can be helpful to be intentional about spending time with friends and family, or engaging in group activities. 


  • Get support. If you are aware that you struggle with your mood and/or daily functioning during certain times of the year, and you have been intentional about trying to manage these changes in the past without success, consider getting support from a coach with a background in emotional wellness or a therapist. Working with a professional can help you improve your self-awareness and find the right tools and strategies so that you feel in control of your mood and emotional well-being year round. 


Live your best life! 

~ Karen 

Karen Vincent Solutions 

If you are interested in information about how to manage unhelpful thinking patterns, you can grab my free 5 Common Thought Distortions Guide HERE. 

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