The season that seems to drag on endlessly in Washington: winter. Where some states face days of snow or clear skies with bitter cold, the weather in Washington maintains a three month long cover of clouds. The sun goes down early, comes up late, and in between when you would normally want a bit of sunshine, Washington instead gifts us more darkness in the form of suffocating overcast. So, essentially we rotate between pitch-black darkness with no moonlight and dim gray light flooding everything for three months straight. 

Some people don’t mind the dreary weather, but for those that struggle with it, winter can seem like an endless dark tunnel with no light at the end. Personally, the weather bothers me during this time of year, so here are several habits that help me during the down days to make the season more bearable. 

Block out the bad weather 

A lot of people support the idea of keeping the blinds open all the time while you’re indoors to allow natural light to come in, especially during the winter. However, I’ve found this to be unhelpful to me. Instead, I keep the blinds closed when the weather outside makes me feel down. This way, I’m not seeing it as a reminder and it can’t influence my mood as easily. Then, I’ll keep my surroundings well-lit with warm lights. I use lamps during the day, and at night, candles and string lights help to wind down. 

Utilize warm, sunny backgrounds on your phone and computer

Something that always helps me is making my backgrounds look like a bright sunny sky in one way or another. My favorite thing to do is use a picture I took during warm weather, such as at the beach. Since I spend so much time on my electronic devices, I find that the sunny picture mimics the idea of looking out a window, even if it doesn’t replace it fully. 

Take care of your health

I’m including all of the generic healthy living things under this category. Make sure you’re getting a little bit of exercise every day, you’re drinking plenty of water, avoiding unhealthy habits, and eating nourishing foods — and having enough to eat, too.  It’s difficult to be mentally healthy when your physical foundation is shaky. Just make sure to pay your health a bit of extra mind during harder times. If nothing else, drink extra water and make sure you’re staying warm, too. 

Try to get a change of scenery 

The best case scenario here would be to fly somewhere warm and sunny for a little while. However, this hiatus is likely not possible for many people, due to time or financial restraints. Even so, taking a day trip to somewhere nearby like the ocean, or even driving to a new area and exploring can be helpful. Breaking up your routine is very helpful in getting yourself out of a slump. 

Don’t stop your outdoor activities 

If you enjoy getting outside when the weather is nice, chances are your mood would be lifted if you had the opportunity to do so, even with gloomy weather. Some hikes are that much more magical in the rain. Don’t be intimidated by the weather — bundle up in some extra layers and grab your bike, or hit the trails if that’s something you enjoy. There are many hobbies that can only be enjoyed in opportune weather, but removing something you love out of your lifestyle for  a long period of time is sure to put anyone in a slump. 

Try to embrace the season

Whether it’s snowing or raining, every season has unique merits that make it special. For example, winter is the perfect time to enjoy all of your favorite hot drinks, load up on ramen, and wear outfits that would make you sweat during any other time of the year. Also, winter quarter is the one with the highest likelihood of days off from class, between holidays and cancellations due to weather.

These tips will help to make you more comfortable during a rough time of the year, but it’s also important to know when it may be something more serious. There are legitimate medical diagnoses for people that suffer an abnormal amount. If this time of year is unbearable, do not hesitate to reach out for additional help. UWT offers counseling services, so if it becomes necessary, do not hesitate to reach out to the resources like these that are at your disposal. 

There is light at the end of the tunnel — spring starts only about two months from now on March 19.

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