Breathing Through the Winter Blues

Well, it’s that time of year again. The days are starting to get a little shorter, the nights a little colder, and the impending winter season is getting closer by the day. As someone from sunny California, the seasons in New Haven (real seasons) are one of my favorite and least favorite parts of being at Yale. I relish in the anticipation of fall while dreading the arrival of wintertime; I fantasize about the blooming in the springtime while cursing the humid heat of the summertime. 

Winter is hard on students for a lot of reasons—it’s dark for a good portion of the day, it’s too cold to hang outside, and staying inside in the dark for most of your day is bound to have negative effects on people’s socioemotional health. (Not to mention the annoying things—a million layers that you have to strip off anytime you walk into a classroom, snow slush on the side of the street, and not being able to wear your cute sneakers on ice). Stretching from November to March, the winter season can feel like it lasts forever. It doesn’t, and you might even miss the snow when the temperature heats up. 

For now, though, I’ll give my West Coasters some tips about surviving your first East Coast winter. 

1. You have to layer. When I first got here, it seemed like East Coasters everywhere were yelling at me to layer my clothes. Wear pants under your pants, they said. It will be fun, they said. Yeah, right. I walked into New Haven fall like I walked into California fall—with a zip-up Santa Cruz hoodie and some long jeans. Turns out, all the layering obsessed East Coasters are right. Put some leggings under your jeans, a long shirt under a sweater under a jacket, maybe even some thermal underwear…

2. Put your face under a sun lamp. I know it feels corny. But just do it. All those good vitamins that your body gets from being in the sun signal to your brain that everything is alright; your body needs light to feel happy. Yale’s got sun lamps in the AfroAmerican Cultural Center and the Good Life Center just waiting to grace your face with sunlight. 

3. Establish a routine. Everyone’s got non-negotiables—things that they have to do to feel well. For me, it’s morning meditation and eight hours of sleep every night. For you, it might be your evening run or mid-day coffee. Whatever it is, pick something that you do for yourself every day, and do it every day. 

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you get the winter blues, know that you are not alone. Even though some lethargy and ugh feelings in the winter are to be expected, you do not deserve to suffer if you’re feeling sadder than expected. 

5. Look up. Winter at Yale is as beautiful as it is long. Make sure you take a moment to look around at the snowflakes floating down over Harkness Hall, the icicles hanging off trees on Old Campus… There is beauty everywhere you turn, if you’re looking for it. 

And remember, no matter how long winter feels, spring will always come again.