On Beating the Winter Blues

It’s been a brutal year for me in terms of stress. Some of it was outright loss, other parts happy but pushing me over the edge of tolerance, for stress too, which is a loss of calm. Whatever is happening, I keep up the mantra, “This too shall pass!”

Life sometimes sideswipes us with occasions for rejoicing or unspeakable tragedy, but hard times run in cycles. It’s important to find ways of reminding ourselves of this rhythmic nature. Outward-facing periods of great vigor and challenge are followed by periods of apparent stagnation. These fallow times can feel like the pits of despair when nothing seems to be changing (except for the worse) and no matter how hard we engage with the problems in our lives, we seem to make no discernible progress. Winter is never going to end; all our senses convince us of it. We are never going to find “the one,” or sell that first story. And we’ve heard enough tales of folks who actually never do find a partner or make a sale that we are sure we belong in that group. As the days shorten and snow or rain turns into mud, we become even more certain the sun will never return.

That’s when I need black belt survival tools. My mantra (above) is one of them. Here are some others that work for me.

  • Every day, I speak with someone who loves me.
  • I try to do a daily act of kindness in a way that I will not be found out.
  • I try to begin each day with trust and end it with gratitude. These can take whatever form seems good to me on that day.

What helps get you through winter blues?


The painting is by Karl Roux (1826–1894), public domain.



On Beating the Winter Blues — 6 Comments

  1. Good advice. I’m already dreading winter this year, although I’m fortunate to live in an area (southwest Virginia) where we get the “Carolina blue” skies most of the time.

    • Having recently moved from a place where summer is more brutal than winter, I can understand that. Winter in Austin is pleasantly cool days, intermixed with periods of north wind, some freezes, and perhaps a bit of snow. It’s much more pleasant than the 100+ temperatures common in August.

      Though, like Deborah, I do better with sunshine. I am curious to see how I handle a full winter in Oakland, where the days get shorter than they do in Austin. Though I suspect that it will only be the short days and occasional stretches of rain that get to me; “winter” in the Bay Area appears to mean that it might rain for days in succession and that the temperature sometimes dips into the 40s.

      I don’t consider a season winter unless I have to regularly dig out long underwear and put on hat, gloves, scarf, and coat to go outside. And I’d be quite happy to never again live in a place where those things are necessary. An occasional visit to winter is pleasant, but full-time life there is just too hard.

  2. Phyl, I don’t think you’re alone in this. Some folks flourish in the cold. It’s as if snow and rain moisturize their souls. I have just a trace of SAD, so the darker, shorter days feel gloomy to me. How wonderful it is that we are different.