Winter Strategies


Fighting off the “Here comes winter” blues.

Maybe you’re wired differently than me, but I look forward to the end of the summer. Once I’ve had enough of the beach and jealousy over everyone else’s vacations I just want everyone to get back to work and answer my emails about freelance work and for everything to go back to normal.

And although I love Fall, once I’ve had enough of pumpkin spice everything and jealously over everyone else’s Halloween plans I start worrying, oh man it’s starting to get dark outside. Earlier. And earlier. Every day. And I wonder how long I will feel normal.

Seasonal affective disorder (seasonal depression that starts in the winter, sometimes as early as October and may continue until late April) is a specific mental health condition that often requires professional intervention. However, many of us get “winter blues” or simply feel more sad during the months when we have less exposure to sun and light. Don’t despair queers, here are some simple tricks to pull ourselves out a bit:

Laugh often. As much as you can, in fact. Fill your environment with things that make you chuckle; save Youtube videos of silly animals to your hard drive or to your phone so you can watch them on the subway. If there is a certain website that makes you consistently laugh, bookmark it and spend 15 minutes there before you start your day.

In a related vein, quit bumming yourself out (political queers I’m talking to you!) first thing in the morning. DO NOT turn on NPR or watch all the horrible video links from tumblr at 6.30 am… Let your body adjust to being awake and out in the world; there is plenty of time to fight the man after you’ve given yourself a somewhat cheerful start.

Set Winter Goals

If winter is a matter of just getting through each day for you, make a list of things you want to accomplish before March 30, print it out and post where you will see it every day. Include some emotional/spiritual goals as well as career goals, and also include some body/movement goals.

Don’t snuggle down and isolate. Yes, my lesbian sisters, I know we have the seemingly inborn tendency to nest with our partners, and freezing cold weather doesn’t encourage us to volunteer an extra shift at the co-op or help organize a demonstration. But getting outside of ourselves and staying engaged with your community can make the difference between winter doldrums and winter dynamite. Or, y’know, something less corny.

Start small. One of the key components of managing any form of sub-clinical depression is to simply get involved in absorbing work that requires substantial effort. If that means starting your laundry, do the first step of getting your clothes together. Then do the next step. And the next.

Get some light. You can buy one of those extremely expensive light boxes, you can make one of your own from a full spectrum light bulb you buy at Home Depot or you can simply spend some time outside. Maybe go to a demonstration.