Finding joy where you can get it
I’ve always been a child of the summer— happiest in the sunshine, even when it’s delivered with abrasive heat. So if you’re anything like me, the fall’s first temperature drop is often accompanied by a bit of dread. Seasonal depression (and living in a cold, dark city) can be quite a real affliction. To get ahead of it, I’ve become nearly obsessive about ways to keep my spirits up through the end of March.
As is the case for anyone dealing with the winter blues, it’s often worth turning to a licensed therapist to have someone as a professional, objective sounding board. The tips I offer should be seen as little extras that can be done in addition to getting more formal care. Below, I will share some of my favorite ways to fight off the winter blues.
1. Find your local fur baby
It’s no surprise that pet adoption rates skyrocketed during the pandemic. Pets make people feel good and it’s just that simple. Of course, caring for a pet can be quite complicated— or perhaps not a good fit for your lifestyle. They’re also quite expensive. There is a way to enjoy a pet with less responsibility. Many shelters are desperate for people to take their dogs out for daily walks or to help socialize them. Fostering can be a great path as well. How could you not feel better when you look down at an appreciative grinning pooch? Learn more about volunteering with the ASPCA here.
1. Get your kitchen in order
Even if you’re not an all-star chef, there’s something deeply cathartic about having your kitchen in order. Many of my culinary frustrations were repeat offenders. For example, I’m a few inches too short for my upper cabinets and all of my Tupperware consistently fell on my head. This occurred at least 3x a week before I finally got my act together and bought a cute step stool. Similarly, my spice drawer was accumulating duplicate spices because it was out of order— so I organized and alphabetized it. These might seem like mundane and specific (and maybe obsessive) examples, but what they illustrate is the importance of taking things that are repeatedly bothersome and tweaking your approach to remove the annoyance.
3. Get outta town
Now that more of us are vaccinated, travel is once again a safer option. Not sure where to go? Sign up for Scott's Cheap Flights and let the wallet-friendly inspiration take hold. I like to have a getaway on the books once a month in January, February, and March— something to look forward to once the sun starts to disappear for days at a time. I often opt for a last-minute cheap flight to somewhere far away in Latin or South America. Because don’t forget— it’s summer in the southern hemisphere.
4. Do good for others
If you’re fortunate, food insecurity is never a problem you have to worry about. Unfortunately, according to the USDA, 10.5% (or 13.8 million) Americans experienced food insecurity at some point in time in the year 2020. While solving hunger on any scale can feel like a daunting prospect, one way to make a difference is by helping maintain or create a community refrigerator. A community fridge is a grassroots way of taking the extra food from local businesses and putting it in the hands of those who need it and can’t afford it. Looking to start your own? Medium has an excellent guide. And of course, on a selfish level, nothing gets the dopamine going like doing something kind for someone else.
Blair Smith is a lifestyle and beauty writer who currently resides (and will likely stay forever) in Brooklyn, New York.