A guide to fighting the winter blues
Jayde Atchison (She/Her) // Opinions Editor
Natasha Lee (She/Her) // Illustrator
December barrels into our lives with a suitcase filled with less daylight, the pressure of gift-giving, familial obligations and, of course, exam stress. December throws that suitcase at you as if you are a bellhop, expecting you to carry it for all 31 days — plus an extended vacation into the new year. The weight seems manageable for the first couple days, but suddenly your arms get tired and you begin to feel the weight of things start to drag you down. Keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy during this time is crucial — and this requires ensuring you’re taking time to practice self-care.
You’re the only guaranteed person throughout your life and it’s important to take care of yourself in the one life you have. Self-care looks different for everyone, because one person’s treasure is another person’s trash. What’s important is to keep your passions in check and unapologetically do things that make you happy — even if others tell you that doesn’t work for them. Test any of these healthy coping mechanisms to help relieve some of the holiday blues, or take an idea and mould it into your own practice.
The classic bubble bath and candle combo: For some, to escape from the constant socializing, decompressing at the end of the day in a soothing bubble bath with their favourite feel-good movie on is an easy step into self-care. Let yourself soak into the hot water, turn off your phone and wait for the water to reach a tepid temperature (and if that’s not enough, drain some water, refill and repeat).
Move your body: You do not need to be an Olympic athlete to feel the benefits of exercise. Even if you take ten minutes out of your day to stretch out your muscles, you can feel more in tune with your body. Students have a habit of foregoing a fitness routine because they are overwhelmed with time management — it’s understandable! If fitness makes you happy, give that gift to yourself and enjoy that endorphin rush.
Remind yourself you are not alone: If you’re out of your hometown for the holidays, it’s easy to feel homesick and miss the experiences that came with being in a familiar setting. For some, it may be comforting to sit in a coffee shop, look out the window and see that there are others going through the same motions that you are.
Throw on a cheesy movie with a festive drink: There’s something heartwarming about holiday films, especially if they’re made by Hallmark. When things are feeling too heavy in the real world, it can be nice to get lost in a guaranteed happy outcome for a few hours. Light a festive candle, throw on a ridiculous themed sweater and give into the happier side of the holidays.
Speak to a counsellor or therapist: Mental health issues start to bubble up and make themselves more obvious during the darker days of the year, and being obligated to spend time with relatives can be triggering to some folks. There are therapy and counselling options for all budgets, and it helps to get your emotions and experiences out to someone that is trained to assist you through them. Find solace in knowing that there is always someone to hear you.
Whatever brings you a spark of joy, hold onto it and give yourself permission to step away from the holiday hustle. Little moments of peace go a long way — finding a healthy outlet this season may help the time go by faster and smoother than previous years. Remember that you are worthy of a break, and December’s baggage can wait while you take one.