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Mental Health

Handling Seasonal Depression During Fall and Winter Quarters

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I love fall — the way the leaves change color and the feeling of the crisp air as you step outside. My closet, full of knit sweaters and sweatshirts, is proof enough of my love for this season. But it can also be one of the hardest times of the year for me mentally. The days become short and dark as the sun abandons us for months at a time. 

I feel myself start to sink a little lower into this funk at the start of each fall, and it’s hard to pull myself out until spring. Last quarter my seasonal depression went so far that it negatively affected my studies. Here are the things I plan to do to lift my spirits during these dark and stormy days. Hopefully they help you as well. 

Prioritize self-care in your free time

By self-care, I mean a concrete activity or action that will benefit your well-being. Maybe that means making your bed or putting away laundry. For me, I love having my nails painted yet I can go weeks with disheveled nails if I’m not taking care of myself. Popping on my favorite movie and sitting down to finally work on something that I’ve been putting off is my idea of the perfect self-care activity. 

Find something enjoyable about the season

What do you think of when you hear the word “fall” or “winter”? I associate the two with holidays that happen during those seasons, and sometimes it helps to celebrate these holidays through movies, music, and decorations. You can usually find me listening to a Christmas playlist while doing my homework come mid-November. 

If you’re not into the mainstream holidays, no worries. There are always seasonal foods and coffee to look forward to (I’m looking at you, peppermint mocha) and indoor activities to do. I’m a lover of blankets and find great satisfaction in choosing the perfect blanket to use before sitting down to read a good book. Maybe you’ll take advantage of cooler weather and go on a short run. Fall and winter can blend together, feeling like an eternal dark period in the year. Finding some bright spots in the season might help to make these next few months more bearable. 

Plan a fun outing or event

Let’s go play in the snow (something I’ve never done before but plan on doing soon)! Or we’ll make cookies at your house! Scratch that — let’s grab a coffee and go ice skating. With finals coming up and the new quarter right around the corner, getting out and doing something fun will brighten your day and give you something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal like going to the North Pole. Arranging a movie night with good snacks and close friends can be just as memorable as taking a trip to a faraway place. 

Start a new hobby

You’re stuck inside because it’s 1) it’s cold and 2) we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Now would be a great time to pick up a new hobby if you haven’t already. Start writing the next bestselling book series. Knit your dog a sweater. Learn how to paint through Bob Ross’s videos. A new hobby would definitely spice up your study breaks and give you something else to focus on besides not being able to go outside. You might want to stay away from indoor hockey, though. I hear roommates don’t appreciate that…

Fall and Winter aren’t as cozy as one might think when seasonal depression comes along with it. Taking care of your mental health is key this season. Finding ways to appreciate the beauty of the season and all it has to offer you might be beneficial in the long run. Dark days outside don’t have to mean dark days for you. I hope these tips help you find a bit of sunshine this fall and winter. 

Destiny is a sophomore at UC Davis studying English. In her spare time, you can find her reading, blogging about books and disability, or rewatching nostalgic movies. Besides being able to recite every word to the Coraline movie, her greatest skill is being able to create a mess anywhere she goes.
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