The winter depression

winter depression

The winter depression starts in January and persists until the end of February. During these two months, the heart of winter, plenty of people lose every hope for a joyous and compelling life. Only after February does life restore its meaning again.

You have probably heard about the third Monday of January, widely known as Blue Monday; it is considered the most depressing day of the year, according to research.

Living in Berlin, I believe Blue Monday is definitely not the only most depressing winter day. If you ask me, all Mondays in January and February are bleak. Not to mention Tuesdays. Or Wednesdays. Each day of these two grey, cold and dreary months can effortlessly deliver feelings of emptiness, repetition and sadness.

And if you reside in beautiful Scandinavia, life there in winter can be even harsher than in Berlin. 

It is not just the cold weather. Alas, that is the least. The primary source of our low energy levels, fatigue, depression, bad mood or sleep disturbances is the lack of sun. The lack of brightness. Mornings are dark. Midday is not any better, whereas evenings are dreadful. The only positive thing is that one gets to know all the shades of grey.

Nevertheless, the winter depression is not only rooted in the shorter days and lack of this great sunlight. Other factors can contribute to our hollow energy tank.

Reasons for the winter depression

The after-Christmas sadness kicks in when all the festive excitement and rush comes to an end. At the same time, the realisation that there is no other big holiday to anticipate violently emerges to the surface. We feel desolate of any speck of positive feeling. 

Not to mention the significantly decreased budget, primarily invested in the most festive time of the year. No budget, fewer social activities and networking, hence more time indoors staring at the sky’s greyest veil. No money, no honey. 

But even if our bank account wasn’t in the midst of collapse, our willingness to socialise has received a severe hit after the Christmas’ over-socialising. It is the so-called social event fatigue.

So, cold and darkness, lack of anticipation, empty bank accounts and social event fatigue have swept away every prospect of a pleasant wintertime.

Ways to fight back

I have lived away from Greece, the land of sunlight and sea, for almost nine years. Life brought it this way that all my years abroad have been in countries where the sun is just a notion and something you see in a travel agency’s advertisements of fancy holidays in Santorini or Majorca. 

Now, this is a two-way situation. I can either continue nagging about the weather conditions with zero prospect of influencing this situation. Or I can choose to embrace and accept the Berlin winter and deal with it. And the latter have I been doing the last years.

Too cold to go outside to socialise? Knowing what lies ahead of me, I have been finding ways to cope with the inevitable. I invite dear friends to my place for dinner and wine in the evening when the baby is asleep. I hugely anticipate and relish these evenings; they are cosy, chilling, exciting and fun. 

Given the opportunity, I book short escapes to sunny countries as a temporary antidote to the winter blues. In addition, sunny holidays offer sweet anticipation.

Another thing that helps me through the harsh winter days is self-care. I tend to myself more than usual, either with nice baths, wellness treatments at home, exercise, slowing down or reading books. The things that make me content and satisfy me.

The dull winter days also offer an excellent opportunity for decluttering a wardrobe, sorting out the storage space and minimising the excess stuff at home. Spending more time at home allows us to transform our personal space into an environment that serves the goal of intentional and purposeful living.

Winter depression is a reality; depending on where you live, it can be a short or prolonged period of low mood and energy. It is easy to submit to it and sulk in melancholy or idleness. 

Nevertheless, these two months do not have to be an unfruitful and neglected period in our lives, for they can still prove beneficial and essential for regrouping ourselves and focusing on the essentials. Use the winter depression wisely.

4 thoughts on “The winter depression

  1. hallo, ich musste bei der Beschreibung vom grauen Himmel über Berlin lachen, weil es tatsächlich so ist. Mindestens 50 shades of grey! Über die eisige Kälte dazu hast du wenig gesagt aber das treibt einen auch zum Wahnsinn. Oder in die wärmsten Mäntel.

    1. Hi there Sophie,
      I do not consider the cold weather as a particular source of the winter depression. It is winter, it is going to be cold! But the darkness is challenging to fight with.

      Thank you for your comment.

  2. Hello Ioanna,
    thank you for this essay about some difficult effects of winter like depression. I completely agree with your arguments.
    Personally, I try to come back to nature and its cycle so I don’t get boarded mentally.
    Most of animals winter and trees keep their energy in their roots in winter so that the Chinese medicine recommends to stay calm and slow down.
    That is why I attend a drawing workshop and practice Qigong particularly during that period. It helps to balance any depressing effet of darkness.
    All the best,

    1. Hi there Isabelle,

      I love that you have found your special ways to handle the winter depression, which admittedly affects a big portion of the population, especially people living in cold and dark countries. Thank you for sharing your tips with us!

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