The Daily Illini

Don’t let the winter blues get to you

By Mary Adam, Columnist

There’s something sad about seeing a Christmas tree lying on the cold hard curbs of suburban streets. In January, the corpses of Christmas ring in the official start of winter for me.

Christmastime doesn’t feel like winter, but after the new year, it definitely does. Once New Year’s Day hits, the post-Christmas blues begin, and soon, so do the winter blues.

New Year’s Day means the start of the new year and the start of a long, cold winter. There’s something about any weather under 40 degrees that makes me sad. And I’m not alone with this seasonal sadness, as many other people hate the winter too.

According to Mental Health America, about five percent of the U.S. population experiences seasonal depression. Worldwide, about 10 to 15 percent of the population suffers from the winter blues. The winter in the Midwest feels 10 times worse than many other places in America. People in places like California complain about 50 degree weather, but they truly don’t know what cold is or the mind games winter plays on those in the Midwest.

On any given day, the temperature could be in the negatives, and the next it could be 50 degrees. Walking outside in the cold after a 50 degree day makes me a real-life Charlie Brown, with the sad music playing in the background and the dragging of feet. Winter doesn’t turn me into a complete sad Charlie Brown for four months, but I do have those days.

It is a common belief that people struggle with seasonal depression due to shorter days and less sunlight. If you’re stuck in class or working all day, it doesn’t feel good to be trapped in what feels like a fluorescent light dungeon and then walk out to either the sun setting or darkness. Even when you’re able to catch some good old sunshine, it’s rare because the skies, for the most part, are always gray in winter time. It’s enough to make us sit through four months of freezing Midwestern winter, but you have to sprinkle the gray days on top of it, too. Whatever god or science causing these grey skies is playing with my emotions.

To heal this sadness, many people turn to sleeping more — you can escape winter if you dream about summer. People also increase their carbohydrate intake, and with the ability to go outside limited, this means many people gain weight during the winter time, and nobody gets happy about gaining weight. There are ways to help your seasonal depression, though.

A great way to combat seasonal depression is by exercising more. Either take advantage of the few nice days in winter by exercising outside or go to the gym. This might sound like a hassle, but it will often improve your mood. Hanging out with friends with the comfort of a warm cup of coffee is also a great way to escape winter for a few hours. One of my favorite ways to get rid of seasonal depression is going to the movies and attempting to see all the movies nominated for this year’s Academy Awards.

There is little I have to look forward to in winter time. I will never understand the people who love winter or snow after Christmas. If you get sad about this weather, you’re not alone. We all have days where we feel seasonal depression, and the only true way to escape it is the changing of the seasons.

Winter is the time for being stuck inside and lazy, and it can be a great time to lay in your bed and watch Netflix. It may suck sometimes, but one of the great things about it is it allows for more time for yourself.

Mary is a freshman in Media. 

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