Opinion: Navigating the winter blues

Published by Kali Davies-Anderson, Date: December 6, 2019
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Well, it’s finally December. For most of us, this means only a few classes stand between us and the end of the Fall ‘19 semester. 

For me, this also means I could be days (or hours…or minutes) from going into labor and finally having normal sized ankles again. 

December has always been one of my favorite months and this year is no different. I love the cooler weather and occasional snowfall, and who doesn’t love holiday decorations and even Christmas Carols on the radio (which I began listening to Nov. 1, shamefully…or not)?

But, one thing that I feel happens to myself every single year is the post-holiday let down. 

We are all excited for the holiday season. It’s time for cute sweaters and gatherings with friends. School is on a break and we have the chance to visit with loved ones that we don’t see nearly often enough. 

Life seems great. Joy is in the air. And then suddenly, it’s January and everything feels bleak. 

Every year a few weeks after Christmas, I find myself in a slump. It feels too cold to be social, too dark to leave the house and that seasonal depression starts creeping in. 

I don’t have much advice on how to prevent this, as it seems to happen to me every year with little warning, but I do have some tips on what is helpful when it does happen. 

First, it is important to be aware that the “winter blues” are a real thing for lots of people. I don’t truly know what causes it, but possibly the fact that it gets dark at 5pm and the air feels like a thousand razor blades hacking away at your flesh if you walk from the grocery store to your car. Whatever the cause, it is very real and- if not acknowledged- can certainly lead to bigger problems down the road. 

Secondly, if you feel yourself isolating, becoming sadder than usual or not wanting to engage in normal activities that you enjoy, it might be time to talk to someone about it. I am not suggesting that you need to go full on psychological evaluation right from the start, but confide in a friend, relative or local counselor if needed, that you aren’t feeling like yourself. Sometimes just saying things out loud can be hugely helpful. 

And finally, try and schedule things to do that you find relaxing or calming and stick to those plans. I personally am a professional “plan canceler” and have been known to make a week’s worth of extracurricular plans and not attend any of them. I don’t only do this during the winter months, but it sure seems easier to get out of the house when the sun is shining and I don’t need an Alaskan bobsled team member style coat to walk 10 feet. If you like movies, make sure you get out to watch a movie once a week. Or get a manicure, walk around the grocery store, meet a friend for dinner on a designated night. Do anything that will get you out when you might otherwise be a hermit. 

Winters in PA are not fun, but they don’t last forever and soon we will all be complaining about the heat and sun, like we were just a few short months ago. 

Good luck with the rest of the semester, see you all in January!

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