How To Beat The Winter Blues In Schools

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • What the winter blues are.
  • How to beat the winter blues in schools.
  • How to find and apply for the best education and SEND jobs.

With the days getting darker, shorter and colder, it’s normal to feel low and irritable during winter. Despite the sparkle and magic of Christmas, winter can be a difficult time for Teachers, Teaching Assistants and even Headteachers to prioritise their own mental health and wellbeing.

During winter it’s dark when you make your way to school, and it’s getting dark when the school day is over. The change in season can result in a change in mood, for many people known as the winter blues.

Even though you might feel like you want to stay in on the weekends or go straight under the covers after the school bell rings, it’s important to shake those winter blues to keep going until spring arrives and daylight hours return. 

Throughout this blog, we’ll delve into 7 ways to beat the winter blues with these winter wellness tips.

What are the winter blues?

The winter blues is a mood disorder that can be characteristic of depression or deep unhappiness associated with experiencing the cold and darkness of winter. During winter, the reduced level of sunlight and a drop in serotonin levels may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of anxiety, low mood and a decrease in energy - these are all signs of the winter blues.

According to Pendleside Medical Practice, 17% of Brits are affected by the winter blues and the symptoms are different for everybody. For Teachers working during winter, it can be difficult to get into a successful routine and be as confident, positive and impactful for students. By the time term ends and school starts again in January, Teachers can experience high levels of exhaustion.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a major depressive episode that like the winter blues, occurs during the winter months when stress and mental health can be more difficult to handle. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a condition where a person tends to experience more anxiety during certain months and seasons.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, about 3 people in every 100 in the UK have a diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but more and more people find that colder months leave them feeling anxious, tired and struggling to keep on top of their mental wellness.

Signs of the winter blues

Although the winter blues aren't the same as Seasonal Affective Disorder, it can still take a toll on a person’s wellbeing and affect how a person feels, thinks and behaves, all of which are very important for Teachers to be able to do their job to a high standard.

There are many signs to look out for so you can be aware of any changes you could make to prioritise your mental health and wellbeing over winter.

Signs of the winter blues:

  • Feeling sluggish or fatigued.
  • Low mood.
  • Irritability.
  • Feelings of anxiety and/or depression.
  • A decrease in energy.
  • Becoming less sociable.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Excessive sleeping.

How to beat the winter blues in schools

7 ways to beat the winter blues in schools include:

  • Stay active.
  • Socialise.
  • Go outside.
  • Switch up your routine/try something new.
  • Self care/treat yourself.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people.
  • Prioritise sleep and rest.

Stay active

Even though it's tempting to stay indoors and wrap up warm, it’s important to stay active during the winter months. Physical activity can improve concentration levels, behaviour and mood which is crucial to decrease the symptoms of the winter blues.

For Teachers, it can be difficult to find time to exercise within their busy schedule. As Teachers are always on their feet in the classroom, the tendency to be sluggish after school can increase making them feel less inclined to go out or stay active.

Studies show that movement and physical exercise can improve concentration levels, behaviour and mood, which can accentuate the winter blues. It can also improve sleep which can be negatively impacted by the winter blues. Instead of just teaching students about the importance of exercise and other healthy habits, take your own advice and stay active.  During winter, students can be full of energy to burn but are often stuck in the classroom during poor weather. Why not incorporate exercise into the classroom to ensure you and your students are engaged, active and working to your full potential?


After the school day ends and during weekends, find the time to go out, socialise or do something for yourself. It can be tempting to withdraw socially when it’s cold and dark outside, but having a social support system in place is important to keep your mind off feelings of loneliness or hopelessness during winter.

There are plenty of things you can do with family and friends which don't have to be expensive. Why not take a trip to the cinema, go out for a meal, or just go for a walk? 

Being proactive and planning events will give yourself something to look forward to. 

Go outside

During the winter months, the majority of teaching is often taught inside. However, it is vital to go outside and experience the benefits of nature. Spending time in nature can help you feel more in touch with your surroundings and has been found to help with mental health.

Expose yourself to natural light as much as possible and increase the amount of light in your home and classroom to improve the mood. Being outside in natural light can be helpful if you experience seasonal affective disorder or the winter blues. 

Participating in activities outside has been shown to help with mild to moderate depression. Make a habit out of going for a run, or a walk in the countryside or local park. The natural light, fresh air and change in scenery while exercising is crucial to improve your mental health.

Switch up your routine/try something new

If you find that your routine is too repetitive or having a negative affect on your mental health and wellbeing, why not change it up? Try something new such as joining a gym, taking up an old hobby or starting a class e.g. pottery making, yoga or swimming.

Learning a new craft, or perfecting an already established skill can boost self confidence and greatly improve your mood and focus. By improving your ability to focus you become much more productive and effective in the classroom for your pupils.

Why not take the time over the Christmas holidays to try something new and challenging to keep your brain ticking and proactive? Even if it’s a new hobby or a new recipe you want to try, a small change can make a big difference. 

Self care

Teachers are responsible for the education and wellbeing of their pupils, but it is also important for all teaching staff to take care of their own mental health and wellbeing. The winter blues can make it difficult to always be a positive influence on students and be the best Teacher you can be.

That is why practising self care is so important to fight the winter blues. Self care comes in many forms and requires Teachers to ensure they prioritise their mental and physical health. Teachers can take care of themselves by eating a healthy balanced diet, doing regular exercise and being mindful.

The winter blues is also a time to treat yourself and prioritise your mental health, with things that make you happy, feel relaxed or appreciated. While it might be difficult to make time for yourself, it can be beneficial to take part in some self-care activities to help your mental health. Some people might benefit and stay motivated by keeping a diary, setting some goals or writing down things they are grateful for.

Prioritise sleep and rest

In winter, the lack of light exposure can affect sleep patterns and likely leads to more melatonin being released which can trigger depression in some people. This can lead to a hibernation response which involves a desire to eat and sleep more in the winter months.

Shortened daylight hours in winter can alter the natural sleeping rhythm leading to Seasonal Affective Disorder in certain people. Too much sleep can have as much of a negative impact on mental health, concentration and mood as too little sleep can.

Ensure you are well rested and get around 7 hours of sleep every night to keep your mood and concentration levels up. Try meditation or some relaxation techniques to help look after your mental health and wellbeing. Small changes in sleeping and eating habits can help sufferers of the winter blues cope during the winter.

Surround yourself with supportive people

A good way to combat the winter blues and seasonal depression is to ensure that you have a strong support system in place to help you in times of need. Don’t suffer alone, confide in loved ones, or talk to someone you trust, whether that be friends, colleagues, managers, or mental health professionals.

Maintaining friendships and prioritising relationships can benefit wellbeing and help combat the winter blues. Talking about your experiences and maintaining communication with people is imperative to ensure that Teachers can deliver the best learning experience to their students.

Build relationships with your colleagues and build a support network in your school and in your personal life. These friendships and conversations about your struggles can help Teachers to stay motivated, sociable and active.

Recruit teaching staff

As a specialist education recruitment agency, we support mainstream and SEND schools with their temporary, permanent and temp-perm staffing needs.

We currently work with hundreds of schools and have exclusive access to some of the best Teachers and Teaching Assistants in the North West.

If you’re struggling to fill a teaching vacancy, why not get in touch with one of our team to see how we can help?

Teaching jobs

If you’re searching for your next teaching job, why not take a look at the latest teaching vacancies, or simply upload your CV to be notified when a relevant position becomes available.

Meet Jamie Heath

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Established in 2017, we’re a vibrant and progressive recruitment agency based in the heart of the North West. 

We continually reimagine the recruitment process to challenge convention and defy expectations; from creating a better recruitment experience to remodelling employee engagement, we thrive off doing things differently and turning heads along the way. 

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