The crunch of chestnut brown leaves underfoot; a thick layer of fog blankets the Meadows; and the fourth floor of the library is still busy after 10pm. This can only mean one thing: winter is upon us. For many people, winter signifies the most magical time of the year. However, for a handful of us, the wintertime brings a sense of dread, sadness, and loneliness. As someone who struggles with chronic depression and anxiety, this time of year can be especially difficult. Seasonal Affective Disorder (seasonal depression or ‘the winter blues’) affects over 2 million people, and with exams coming up I can imagine it’s affecting many of you too. So, I thought I’d share my advice for dealing with the winter blues.
As the days are becoming much shorter, it is increasingly important to soak up the sun. Getting outside for at least 15 minutes a day makes a world of difference. I struggle immensely with finding the motivation to get out of bed each morning. Always have and probably always will. But knowing that there’s only a small window of time in which I can bask in the brilliant Scottish sun before we plunge into darkness at 5pm, really does the job for me. I can imagine it might do the same for a few of you.
Many people (including myself) tend to feel isolated and alone in the winter months. Love is in the air; people are heading home for the holidays, and it seems as though everyone has a huge group of friends with whom they revel in the festivities with. As someone who lives alone, I find that I often feel as though I’m missing out. It’s not until I discovered the concept of ‘self-dating’ that I realised that I could do all those things by myself. This can be extremely daunting at first, but I found that taking myself out once a week to do something simply because I want to is the best form of self-care. Whether that be trekking down to the Meadows for an Uplands Roast hot chocolate; or visiting the Christmas Markets on Princes Street on your lonesome. Sometimes, loneliness reveals that you have a best friend within you.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Seasonal Affective Disorder can be extremely draining, isolating, and debilitating, and no one should have to go through that alone. Seeking help doesn’t have to be daunting. It can be as simple as asking a friend to go for a coffee and a catchup or making an appointment with your GP. There are also tons of free helplines out there that always have a trained ear to listen and help in anyway possible. The winter is tough enough already, don’t make it any harder on yourself.
I hope that whistle stop tour of a few things I like to do to battle the winter blues was (somewhat) helpful. Remember: take care of yourselves and others this winter, and most importantly, be kind.
Image Credit: provided to The Student by Eden Kersse, used with permission.