Navigating the Winter Doldrums

Winter Doldrums

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘doldrums’ as a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression.

This time of year, as February approaches, we’re reminded just how blah those winter doldrums can make us feel. Especially for those of us living up north and in colder climates.

Let’s face it, winter is tough. Once the holiday hullabaloo ends, it’s a long, dark, cold countdown to spring.

For many students, it can be a tricky time.

Take the average high schooler, by February, there isn’t anything new about the school year and the excitement and optimism usually has worn off. Especially for kids struggling academically or socially, winter represents a long stretch with no breaks until spring.

An interesting topic came up recently at BrainCog; do kids perceive time slower than adults? As adults, when we think back to our childhood, it seems like time moved slowly.

It is likely because most children and teens have fewer life experiences and responsibilities such as bills, childcare, insurance, all the boring stuff that makes us busy and takes our precious time.

Beating the winter doldrums

So how do you beat the winter doldrums? Simply recognizing the feelings you’re feeling is an important step. Then consider making a few immediate and small changes – like calling a friend or making plans to meet for coffee. Something new and different in the immediate future can help.

Here are some other simple tactics to help until spring rolls around:


Sunlight – get outside daily, even for a few minutes, it's helpful and generally improves mood. Consider investing in a sunlight-simulating alarm clock.

Exercise – again, just a few times per week can provide a valuable brain boost.

Socialize – reaching out to friends and making plans to connect can give you something to look forward to.

Hydrate – not everyone drinks enough water in the winter, staying hydrated is vital to a healthy brain.


Remember, each day is getting longer, by two minutes! In just a month, we’ll have an extra half hour of sunlight to enjoy.

If your child needs help setting or achieving their goals this winter, please reach out by emailing us at


The Brain Coach Blog is written by executive function coach Mary Turos. Based in Belair, MD, Mary is affectionately known as 'The Brain Coach" for her work helping people achieve harmony using strategies based in neuroscience.

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