The winter blues are well known to many. The lethargy hits, we remain cooped up inside and slowly our physical, mental and emotional vigor deteriorates. With record low temperatures that severely limit our activity, these seasonal swings can be exacerbated.
The intense cold deters us from going outside for anything other than our basic needs. Go to class, come back, work, eat, sleep, repeat. A routine builds up that creates a cycle of laziness, angst and isolation.
Coming from the 60-degree winters of California, I hadn’t had much experience with real seasonal changes, but I’ve already started observing stark shifts in the way I and others around me act. Lacking anything like the support system we may have had at home, it’s common for us to be a bit more alone these days.
The cold makes me stay inside. Staying inside makes me restless. Being restless hinders my ability to work, and thus, any time not spent shuffling around awkwardly or looking longingly out a window is spent doing work to catch up. Social interaction decreases, and we fall into a routine that only perpetuates the cycle. We increasingly become more reserved, don’t go out of our way for others as much and without the fulfillment of interaction, unhappiness and anxiety seep in.
For the sake of our sanity, our health and our relationships, though, it’s important that we don’t let the winter blues get to us. The routine that sets in causes our unhappiness to proliferate, and preventing this means breaking the routine.
Happiness is the result of a number of positive changes in our routine, little shifts that distance us from the slowly increasing disorder of our lives.
Scientifically, light is an important part of fending off these changes in our mood, and that’s the easiest step in diverging from our increased time spent indoors.
Pull back the shades, start catching up on work you’ve been putting off and clear your mind of the myriad things you need to get done. As your workload is slowly taken care of, change up what you do in your free time to make the winter more interesting and refreshing.
Whether it’s getting together with your floormates to watch a movie, grab dinner or just hang out and do homework (with the occasional spontaneous dance party) or braving the cold to meet your friend at Starbucks, keep your social interaction alive. Not only will this keep you rejuvenated, but also it won’t allow for the tension in friendships and interactions that can arise due to increased isolation and mood changes.
As we await the springtime sun, making it through the winter is tough, but with some sweet company and hot cocoa, passing through this bitter cold might be a little easier.