Combating the Winter Blues

Stella Seth, student, Western Washington University  |  November 18, 2022 in Pearson Students

A dark green cactus-type plant featuring pointed fronds with spikes along the edges.

I love fall. It’s the best season for fashion, fragrance, and fun. With fall comes crisp mornings, stunning sunrises, and petrichor. Where I live in Washington State has it all: mountains, trees, and water, but it’s lacking in sunshine in the wintertime. I’m originally from the Caribbean, a place known for its hot sun and volatile weather. I’m used to sunshine, so you can imagine when I first came here and experienced winter for the first time, my mental state took a hit.

Later, I would realize that I suffer from what is known as seasonal affected disorder, more commonly known as seasonal depression. You might recognize the signs within yourself: a persistent low mood, losing interest in the things that usually bring you joy, and an unstated sadness. I believe everyone who lives in Washington and places that receive less sunlight in the fall and winter can experience some measure of this—it’s normal. Here are some tips and tricks to hijack this uncanny state so that your fall and winter may be a bit brighter.

Keep Up with Hobbies

During this time, indulge a little. Be a kid and spend time doing what usually brings you joy. Set some time aside to intentionally engage with your hobbies. Even though you might not feel like it, your mood will be lifted. I personally like thrifting and dancing. Do what makes you happy, whatever that is: embroidery, playing tennis with friends, hiking, paddleboarding, etc.

Address Lower Sun Exposure

Since sunlight helps produce vitamin D, less sun in the winter can lead to a deficiency in that area, which can affect your mood. Consider increasing your Vitamin D levels with supplements. (Always consult with your healthcare provider before taking supplements). I have found that another helpful way to address lower sunlight exposure during winter months is to use a light therapy lamp, and it does wonders. Just having a source of light that mimics the sun in my space brightens up my mood.

Nature Therapy

I would also recommend you spend time outdoors. Nature therapy works, at least for me. If you can’t do that then bring the outdoors to you. Do you like plants? I love them! My space is overflowing with them, and I feel happy every time I look at them. You’re also taking care of something and that’s motivating. Pets are especially great mood boosters. If plants are not your thing, then some picked flowers work equally as well.

Winter is not an easy time. The world is filled with depressing stories, but if you take a bit of time out of your day to do what you love and consider self-care, I promise you it won’t go to waste.

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