I hate winter and cold weather. I’ve hated winter and cold weather ever since I was young. I’ve never learned to tolerate it, let alone like it.
While many people around me love winter and everything that comes with it (they love snow, breathing in cold air, drinking hot chocolate under a warm blanket, making snow angels, ice skating, etc.), I can’t stand the weather when it gets cold.
It’s the worst thing ever, a traumatic nightmare that comes back every year with freezing wind and everything pitch black at 4 pm already.
I suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and hibernate between October and April. When spring and then finally summer comes, I finally feel alive again, ready to tackle the world.
High temperatures and sun make all the difference. I’m a completely different person in the summer and a completely different one (much worse) in the winter.
Because I’m unable to survive winter without suffering from debilitating winter blues, I designed my life in such a way as to never be in my home country (Poland) during the cold months. Instead, I head to warm, sunny countries where I can enjoy blue skies, fresh air, and my favorite outdoor activities.
In this article I want to share my experience and thoughts on why I hate winter so much. I’ll also share advice on surviving winter and cold weather (hint: it’s not what you expect).
Oh, and if you love winter, this article is not for you unless you want to understand someone who hates it.
Why Is Winter So Depressing?
For most people who suffer from winter blues, winter is so depressing because they don’t get enough natural light to feel good. This in turn affects the body’s circadian rhythms and leads to symptoms like depression, sadness, tiredness, apathy, etc.
Then there are more specific reasons that depend on a person.
You Spend Little Time Outside
Because winters usually come with gray skies, low temperatures, rain, snow, and short days, they also force you to spend more time indoors. And when you can’t enjoy time outside, you can’t do your favorite activities.
I love practicing sports but I dislike doing them when it’s cold. It’s just no fun to go for a run with freezing cold temperatures. You can’t go swimming in a lake if it’s frozen. Hiking gets uncomfortable, it not outright dangerous (unless you’re well-prepared), too.
But even those who aren’t as active may still suffer. You can’t read a book on your patio. You can’t have a nice relaxing weekend in the pool or lying in a hammock. You can’t have guests over for BBQ.
Winter robs you of countless pastimes that create beautiful memories and have a huge impact on your happiness levels.
You Lack Energy
Then there’s low energy because of insufficient light and short days.
You’re struggling to get up because it’s dark outside.
You’re struggling at work because it’s even darker in the office, particularly if you’re away from the windows.
You’re struggling to get anything done afterward because it gets dark so early, the day is over before you even realize it.
Deprived of natural light and comfortable temperatures, your whole body feels exhausted even if your day isn’t that busy.
That’s how it feels for me and I know that’s how it feels for many others who suffer from seasonal affective disorder and hate winter. It saps your energy in a way very few things do.
You Can’t Stand Cold Temperatures
Winter is also depressing for many people because they struggle to stay warm.
“Wear good winter clothes,” some people say. But it doesn’t work for everyone.
Some people feel cold regardless of the clothes they wear. Perhaps it’s psychological, but there’s this deep kind of discomfort only people sensitive to cold understand. You feel miserable when it’s cold outside, whether you wear several layers of proper winter clothes or not.
Life’s Harder When It’s Cold
Then there are all the practical reasons why winter sucks. I hate getting into my cold car, sitting on a freezing seat, touching the freezing steering wheel…
But the worst is de-icing the car before I can even go anywhere, with my hands going numb as I scrape the windshield or wait for the car to heat up.
And then there’s slow traffic, ice on the road, risky driving, and a potential snow storm or two to further ruin your day.
How can you not like winter, right?
Is It Normal to Hate Winter?
Just like it’s normal for some people to hate summer because they can’t stand high temperatures, so it is normal for some people to hate winter.
There’s nothing wrong with you if you can’t tolerate freezing cold temperatures or if cold wind on your skin feels like pouring boiling water on it.
You may be more sensitive to cold than a regular person. That alone makes it a valid reason to hate winter and what comes with it.
I don’t like it when it’s too cold to comfortably enjoy the outdoors, ruling out engaging in my favorite activities. They’re fundamental to my happiness, so if I lose access to them, I feel terrible.
I also don’t like short days. When it gets dark early, you still have many hours to go before you can go to sleep. What do you do during these long, dark afternoons/evenings? Most likely, you stare at a screen or eat. If you don’t cope well with winter, you’ll likely engage in bad habits as an escape.
And there’s no looking “on the bright side” of winter: my body just doesn’t cooperate.
Over many winters I tried adapting and finding good things about the cold season. I couldn’t. Each winter, I was always tired and hating every second of it, waiting for the spring to bring me back to life.
So I hate winter, period.
Just like me, many people don’t like winter for similar reasons. It robs them of their favorite hobbies and zaps their energy. Why would it be abnormal to hate when you feel tired and can’t do what you love?
Some of Many Reasons Why I Hate Winter
Here’s a list of some reasons (out of countless reasons) why I hate winter:
- I hate cold temperatures that make it impossible to comfortably enjoy the outdoors. You’re always in a rush because if you stop, you’ll feel cold. But if you’re moving too fast, you’ll sweat and then you’ll feel that terrible combination of feeling hot and cold at the same time.
- I hate snow, the ugliness it brings to the city when it mixes with mud, and the hopelessness you feel knowing that it may take weeks for the snow to melt completely.
- I hate short winter days that end before you know it. There’s never enough time to go outside. I also don’t like it when I have to be awake for hours when it’s dark outside, either in the early morning or the late afternoon.
- I hate winter driving and everything that comes with it: slippery roads, ice, de-icing, low visibility, bone-chilling coldness you feel in the car before heating kicks in, etc.
- I hate oversleeping in winter but it’s extremely hard not to when it’s still dark when you wake up.
- I hate cold and flu season when everyone around you is sick and you know that eventually you’ll get sick, too, making winter months even more miserable.
- I hate having dry skin which winter exacerbates due to spending most time in heated, low-humidity rooms.
- I hate putting on endless layers of clothes before heading out the door and then dealing with the bulky, restrictive feel.
- I hate winter weight gain. It’s almost unavoidable if you’re confined indoors for most days, with reduced activity outside and wanting to eat comfort food.
- I hate terrible air quality that comes during the winter where I live. It makes me feel like I live in a post-apocalyptic movie.
I Hate Fall, Too
Now, winter isn’t the only season I hate. I also hate fall because it means one thing: winter is coming.
While some fall days can still be relatively warm and sunny, you can still feel the cool wetness lingering in the air, see the decaying leaves, and experience the already freezing cold mornings and evenings. The days are getting shorter and everything around is slowly dying.
Nope, not for me.
I’m already beginning to feel anxious in September when days start getting shorter and the sun doesn’t shine as high up in the air as in June or July. I know that shortly I’ll feel even worse so I need to escape my home country to preserve my sanity.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: How to Know If You Have It
The best guide I’ve ever read on seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a book titled Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder by Norman E. Rosenthal. In the book, he provides a simple questionnaire which you can use to self-diagnose.
But even without the book, it’s very easy to tell whether you suffer from this disorder. Simply ask yourself if you feel different in the winter and in the summer.
If your mood is worse in the cold months, or if your energy levels are lower, or if you’re struggling with motivation, apathy, and sadness in the winter but not in the summer, the answer is clear: you have SAD.
How to Enjoy Winter When You Hate It (or How to Survive It) – The Brutal Truth
There’s a variety of things you can do to better handle winter. I’ve tried them all and here’s how they worked for me:
- Make sure you get adequate natural light, either through spending time outdoors (even when it’s cloudy) or using a SAD lamp. I have the strongest SAD lamp on the market. While it does provide a temporary boost, it’s hardly a cure. When you turn it off, you’re back to the sad, dark reality.
- Make sure to exercise regularly. While exercise does help to boost your well-being, I primarily enjoy exercising outside. But exercising outside in the cold months is very uncomfortable, if not outright impossible, for many sports. It’s completely different to go cycling on a pleasant summer day and a complete nightmare on an icy, gray winter morning.
- Take antidepressants. I don’t take any drugs unless I absolutely have to, so I’ve never taken antidepressants and don’t consider them a solution, either. How sustainable and healthy is it to take antidepressants for the rest of your life for up to six months a year?
- Prioritize social activities. Spending time with other people does help but your options for spending time are dramatically limited with short, cold days. I mostly spend time with my friends or family outside. It’s not that enjoyable in the winter.
- Supplement vitamin D. While low levels of vitamin D may have an impact on your mood, vitamin D isn’t the only thing you get from the summer. It’s one of many things you’re missing in the winter so it’s hardly a cure, either.
In other words, the brutal truth is that no matter what I did, I still struggled in the winter a lot. There was nothing that could help me tolerate winter, let alone enjoy it. It was pure survival. And I sucked at survival, too, each year hating my life until April when weather started improving.
There’s only one thing that works when you hate winter: going on (frequent) trips to warmer, sunnier locales or better yet, moving to a place with milder winters or ideally non-existent ones. Here’s my experience with both of these approaches:
Going on Vacation to Have a Break From Winter
When I couldn’t leave Poland for the entire winter, I went on short trips to countries like Spain (for US readers, this would be a bit like going to southern California) where winters are relatively mild and there’s still plenty of sunlight. This helped immensely while I was there. I could feel the dark, gloomy cloud leave the moment I landed at my destination.
Things quickly went back to normal when I returned home. Sometimes, I even felt worse after returning. There I was in Spain, enjoying bright skies and the outdoors and then I had to head back home to the dreary, cold weather and suffer again.
If I was feeling particularly terrible at home, such a trip still helped replenish my batteries a little. But it never lasted long unless I had another trip planned in the next couple of weeks (so that I had something to look forward to that was closer than the arrival of spring).
Moving to a Warm, Sunny Place
Ultimately, for me this is the only solution if you truly hate winter. I’m yet to meet someone who used to dislike winter who now likes it. But I’ve met MANY people who hated winter, moved to a better climate, and never looked back.
Because I love summers in Poland, I tend to stay there between May and September. But the rest of the year I travel as often as I can or I move for a few months to a warm, sunny country.
This way, I get the best of both worlds. I get to be in my home country for a few months each year and spend time with friends and family. But then I escape winter and feel great the entire year, never having to deal with cold weather, snow, short days, gray skies, and other terrible things that come with winter.
Where to Live If You Hate Winter?
The original reason for me starting this website was to help people like me who absolutely hate winter and want to live in a better place for their needs. This is why I’ve written countless articles on finding such destinations around the world.
Depending on where you live now and how far away you want to move, here are your options:
If You Live in the United States
If you live in the United States, you’re blessed because you don’t have to move to another country to live in a place with a great climate. The best options include Florida, Hawaii, Texas, California, and Arizona because these states have the warmest and sunniest winters.
I’ve published many articles on the best warm places to live in the United States. Here are a few that you may find valuable:
- US States With Mild Winters
- Best Place to Live With Warm Weather and a Low Cost of Living in the US
- Warm Safe Places to Live in the US
- Where Is the Best Weather Outside of California?
- What Are the Hottest Cities in the US?
- What Are the Warmest Cities in the US in Every State?
If You Live in Canada
US options may appeal to you as well, given you can find a way to immigrate to the United States. Otherwise, many Canadians move to:
- Mexico: the area of Yucatan from Mérida to Progreso is very popular due to its low crime rate).
- Australia: though distance is a factor here.
- Panama or Costa Rica: though personal safety needs to be taken into account.
- Portugal or Spain: for living in Europe with a relatively quick flight to Canada.
- Countries in the Caribbean like Barbados, the Dominican Republic, or the British Overseas Territories like Cayman Islands: for a quick flight to Canada and great weather, but best leave in the hurricane season.
If You Live in Europe
The typical destination for Europeans tired of winters in their countries is southern Europe:
- Spain is the most popular destination. This includes the Canary Islands, the warmest destination you can find in Europe. Read my article on the warmest cities in Spain.
- Portugal is another popular option. This includes the Azores and Madeira (the latter with a similarly warm but cloudier climate than in the Canary Islands). Read my article on the warmest cities in Portugal.
- Italy is also popular, though it tends to be a little cooler than Spain and Portugal (except for Sicily). Read my article on the warmest cities in Italy.
- Greece is another option, though it’s a little less developed than the previous three countries. Read my article on the warmest cities in Greece.
- Cyprus is another popular option, particularly among people from the UK due to Cyprus being a very friendly destination for English speakers.
- Malta is another favorite if you speak English as a native speaker, though it has cooler weather than Cyprus.
- Some people may find it more interesting to head to lesser explored countries that are still relatively warm and sunny in the winter, like Croatia or Albania.
For more information, you may also want to read the following articles:
If You Live in New Zealand
The most convenient and popular option for Kiwis is Australia (no surprise here).
Australia has consistent sunshine year round, particularly in Western Australia, Queensland, and Northern Territory. These regions are also blessed with high temperatures year round (though they’re too high for many people, particularly with high humidity).
The Cook Islands are also an option, though not everyone can live on a small island the entire year.
If you’d rather stay in New Zealand, some areas of the country provide much better weather. I published an article on the warmest cities in New Zealand. Sunshine-wise and temperature-wise, Tauranga is the most reliable city for the best year round weather in New Zealand.
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