A Descriptive Guide to dealing with the seasonal blues

By Aditi Gupta, Staff Writer

Photo source: Mpls.St.Paul.Magazine

You just got your amazing eight hours of sleep, and it is time to start the day. But wait, you don’t feel like getting out of bed! You feel very low on energy, and the activities you liked just a couple weeks ago now seem “eh.” What you and probably a lot of students at U of T are experiencing is called “seasonal depression.” Funnily, I didn’t know this was a thing before I started college. For those who still don’t, it’s a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern and is also known as “seasonal affective disorder (SAD).” I see what they did there.

It happens primarily during fall and winter because the days get shorter. The daylight supply reduces drastically, triggering a chemical reaction in the brain and inducing symptoms of depression. Other symptoms include social withdrawal or craving sugary treats (if you have been craving the big belly cookie a little more than usual, now you know why). However, as dreadful as this phenomenon sounds, there are ways to overcome it. For that, I bring advice from your very own seniors at Trinity, who have experienced seasonal depression firsthand, and the Internet. The advice that very much stuck with me was that overcoming seasonal depression involves nourishing our Trinity of life: the soul, the body, and the mind. 

The most straightforward and sometimes the most challenging solution is taking care of your body. This involves maintaining a healthy diet and doing physical activities consistently, like running, walking, or going to the gym. You could also pick a sport like swimming or badminton (you can play these sports and more at Hart House, which is so close to Trin!). If you want to add mindfulness to the mix, you can practice or learn how to do yoga (available at Goldring). Engaging in physical activity is a good way to overcome seasonal depression by releasing dopamine in our brains, which feels rewarding and makes us happier. I personally love jogging around campus while listening to Taylor Swift or the Arctic Monkeys.

Next is nourishing your mind: this involves activities that stimulate you intellectually. The widely preferred one is reading a good book. Suppose you aren’t much of a reader (like me). You can try journaling, doodling, coding, playing board games, visiting a museum or an art gallery; the list goes on. These activities can be anything you enjoy that gives you something to think about. Doing these activities will make you feel empowered, introspective, cathartic, or expressive. 

Lastly, find ways to nourish your soul. This involves activities that make you feel fulfilled and bring you inner peace. For me, it is having dinner with my friends at Strachan, ranting about all of our days and consoling each other that we will make it through U of T. You can also go out and soak in some sunlight, meditate, connect with friends and family, or watch an episode of your favorite show on Netflix (give Indian Matchmaking a shot). Gaslighting yourself into liking the weather (I personally swear by this method) also works if you find things you appreciate about these seasons. I love pumpkin-themed treats in fall and ice-skating or hot chocolate during winter—there’s always something to look forward to every season. 

SAD could be especially challenging as a first-year adjusting to the weather. However, if it’s any consolation, this feeling is normal and shared by most of your peers and even seniors. Most importantly, it can be overcome!

Yes, it’s easier said than done, but I want to remind you that we live in a world full of binaries; just know that once these seasons are over, the sun will shine brighter than usual.

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