Coping with seasonal depression

How to find light in the darkness

Joanna Paje, Staff Writer

These days, you’ve noticed that the sun sets earlier than usual. That grandiose star, usually so bright and full of life, gives into the exhaustion and gently lays itself to rest along the horizon. The moon takes a seat at the highest point in the sky and the cold suddenly sets over the town. The winter chill embraces the city and the clouds come to blanket the moon, making the world dark and gray. The cold seeps through the windows and it makes you want to hunker down in bed, swaddled in blankets and a stomach full of hot chocolate and coffee. The urge to get up and tend to your responsibilities flutters out the door, not to be seen until spring and summer come again. November and December blur into one androgenous month as the air gets colder and your nose gets redder. Thanksgiving, Christmas, family and love — it’s just around the corner, so why does sadness plague your heart? 

More often than not, seasonal depression comes around the winter time, but keep in mind that this can occur with any season. Moods change as the seasons change, and with it comes a whole new plethora of conflict and inner turmoil. Luckily, you are not alone! Here are some tips on how to cope with seasonal depression. 

Change your perspective 

A lot of the time, seasonal depression stems from a change in attitude. Winter undoubtedly brings along gray skies and freezing cold, but what about it triggers such deep seated feelings of sadness? Winter can be seen one of two ways: cold, unbearable and glum, or a time for rest. 

Summer and spring are times of productivity and motivation; people are out and about taking advantage of the warm summer sun and the bright leaves growing on the trees. It’s a time for rebirth and growth — a time of hope after a season of sadness. But winter can be seen as a time for rest and regeneration. It’s a time of hibernation, even for the fiercest animals. Unfortunately, humans have been conditioned to work until their bones give out and their muscles collapse from exhaustion, so much so that resting triggers feelings of anxiety and inadequacy, but winter comes with the gift of rest. Use this time to allow yourself to sleep, eat and regain your strength. 

Engage in activities that bring you joy 

Whether it be reading a book, trying new recipes, frequenting the gym or gaming for several hours straight, it’s important to keep yourself occupied when you’re aware of how easy it is to spiral into depression. Sitting at home in the dark will only feed into the endless cycle of sadness, so do your best to get up and move into a place full of light. This may be your friend’s house, the mall or even the living room. Surround yourself with life and cherish the joy that comes with it. You may have struggled with seasonal depression in the past, so now is the time to take back your power and rewrite those cold memories with warmer ones. 

Talk about it

Remaining dormant because of the cold can cause you to think about all the problems you thought you could suppress. Alone at home with no other company but the cold, it’s easy to get lost inside your own head. When this happens, I encourage you to talk to someone about it. Reach out to your family or a trusted friend and talk about the heaviness that sits on your chest. Winter is a time of vulnerability and rest, and it isn’t healthy to keep everything bottled up because you don’t want to inconvenience anyone with your issues. You are not a burden and you are not an inconvenience! Your voice matters, your impact matters and your presence matters. You will be surprised with how much warmth you will be met with when you reach out to people in times of need. Burdens are meant to be shared, not handled alone. 

Enjoy the little things! 

Any kind of depression will trick you into thinking there is nothing left in the world that you can look forward to, but that is simply not true. Look forward to the little things in life! Romanticize the little nuances in your daily routine: the coffee you make in the morning, the perfectly toasted slices of bread popping out of the toaster, even the plate of breakfast you served yourself first thing in the morning. All of these things are the product of your own work and it’s proof that you are alive and thriving. Take some time to sit in these pleasant feelings and soak up the lovely bubble you’ve surrounded yourself in. There are so many joys in the world, big and small, that are begging to be appreciated. Allow yourself to relish in these moments and you will notice how much your mood lifts in a matter of minutes. 

Remember that this too shall pass 

Just like all things in life, this depression is temporary! It’s called seasonal for a reason; life comes in cycles, and some days will feel so good, only for it to come crashing down. But the beauty is that once rock bottom has been hit, the only way forward is up. This sadness is only temporary, and most importantly, it isn’t you. At the end of the day, allow yourself to rest and let yourself sit in these feelings. Acknowledge and entertain them the same way you would treat house guests, and understand that eventually, it will have to leave.