The Winter Blues

Tis the season to be crying.


We humans innately hate the cold blistering winter months and so over the years we’ve tried everything to help make them more bearable. First, some caveman said ‘ooh ahh’, rubbed some sticks together and discovered fire and for that we are grateful. Then, we invented Christmas; a time where if you’re not warmed by the familial love and festive joy, you will be by the hot wine and roasted carbs. More recently, we decided to deem jumper wearing cool for anyone, even if you’re under the age of 85, and now the woolliest, hand-knitted garments both keep you toasty and alternative. So then why, oh why, does winter still feel like a struggle, like you’re constantly battling through the rainiest, windiest day since the world began?

But hey there, gloomy friend, you’re not alone. Having ‘The Winter Blues’ doesn’t mean you own that £2.99 Christmas jazz album you found in the WHSmith sales bin. 17% of people in the country experience some form of mild depression at this time of year and scientists have even suggested that it’s got something to do with the way our hormones react to light; making us miserable when it’s darker for longer. But why are we letting the weather win? Why should the seasons have any impact on our emotions? We can control this, use the adverse temperatures to our advantage.

Is that a giant burrito? No, it’s just you, wallowing in self-pity, curled up in your duvet thinking it’s too cold to venture out of bed. But everyone is cold, deal with it. Natural selection is a bitch, and unfortunately in order to stay ahead of the whole ‘survival of the fittest’ game, you’ll need to stop acting like a sloth.  In fact, winter is the perfect time to do things that get you hot and bothered. We will force ourselves to go jogging in the 27 degree summer, leaving you panting like your neighbour’s unattractive dog in full daylight, leggings plastered to your skin and sweat dripping off your sunburnt body. But in fact, we should be making the most of a crisp, cold evening, when the sweat on your brow may just evaporate and turn into a snowflake.

Now I know for some reason, between October and January you become very aware that you’re alone. Almost as if you’ve been standing in the middle of the desert for a year and only just looked around you to realise that there’s no one else there. But instead of falling to the ground, clutching sand in your hands and screaming ‘why’ to the heavens, start going for a wander; you may just bump into another lonely spirit . Whatever you do though, don’t get desperately drunk on New Year’s Eve and call your soul-sucking ex. The quest for romance doesn’t need to be depressing, treat it as exciting and if it doesn’t work out, just call it ‘a good life experience’.

Being a student seems that little bit tougher in winter; the work load gets harder, the essays get longer and the calorie consumption gets easier. Then, self-doubt creeps in and the existential crises start. And before you know it, you can barely recognise yourself from that grumpy arse looking back at you in the mirror. Between home and the UCL Campus, life can seem very small. No imminent exotic holidays to Turkey and definitely no big green spaces full of live music and more drugs than Russell Brand’s back pocket.

Maybe, some of us get the Winter Blues because of our own idealisations, since idealising things only leads to disappointment. As much as I love snow and the idea of going for a long picturesque stroll looking like a youthful Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands, I know I’ll just spend the whole time trying not to fall on the slush-ice hybrid that clogs up our streets.

I know I sound very pessimistic; I’m not sure why maybe I’m cold or something. But what you should realise is that the Winter Blues are natural. It’s ok to want to listen to Radiohead on repeat, it’s ok to spend a little more time isolated from the rest of society, and it’s even ok to conceal yourself in so many layers that you can’t fit through the oyster card barriers. Only as long as you don’t allow yourself to be consumed by the angst that the cold wind brings. Dark mornings and darker afternoons may bring out the darker sides of your personality, but use winter as a time for self-exploration, not self-destruction. Research at the University of Southampton (notjudging) shows that at least 90% of adults suffer from subtle alterations in mood when the seasons change. So remember, you’re not going crazy and perhaps pathetic fallacy isn’t such a fallacy after all. You just need to stop being pathetic about it.