Winter in upstate New York can be harsh, and I’m not just talking about the forty-one mile per hour winds. Winter is a constant stream of snow and grey skies, this long period without having sunny days can definitely take a toll on your mental health. Upstate New Yorker’s are all too familiar with the term “seasonal depression” and if you haven’t the definition of it s depression that coordinates with the changing of seasons. This definition doesn’t do justice to the way it feels to wake up every morning to a gloomy sky. For me, winter is a time where I get to dress like a potato sack in big sweater and a time to sulk and feed into my depression. Often times when I’m sad or depressed I fuel the fire by listening to sad music, watching sad movies, and spending most of my time by myself.
Spring, however, is not only a season of rebirth but a time to force myself out into the sunlight and away from my seasonal depression. There are a few things in particular that help me out of my winter slump.
My idea of gardening is probably very different from most. By gardening, I mean going to Home Depot and buying plants such as succulents and bromeliads. Why? Because its very easy to take care of them, and it is very hard to kill them. I have never grown anything starting with a seed so I’m not really a gardener. There are a few benefits of my style of gardening, the first being that it is very easy. The second being that experiencing nature helps with mental fatigue, supported by the University of Washington’s Urban Forestry/Urban Greening Research.
De-cluttering the space I live in helps me to de-clutter me mentally as well. When I was younger I absolutely loathed the idea of cleaning my room, but now I clean to help calm me. It’s much easier for me to be productive in a clean and well-organized setting.
There’s nothing like getting some fresh air after a stressful day. Or a relaxing walks outside to start your day off. Physical exercise, especially in the morning, wakes me up and helps me to mentally prepare for the day ahead while also putting me in a good mood.
Ithaca is full of gorges; hence the saying Ithaca is gorges. Take advantage of the beauty around you by going swimming. Going to the gorges is also a great social activity and makes for some great memories, as well as some funny stories.
Sundresses & Birkenstocks
These are the two things you will find me wearing almost all the time when the weather starts to get warm again. Sundresses and Birkenstocks literally make me feel lighter. During the spring and summer months I am no longer weighed down by my down jacket that goes to my ankles.
The Farmer's Market
One of the best parts of living in Ithaca is the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. The farmer’s market has fresh produce, beautiful flowers, hand-made jewelry, and some of the best food I’ve ever had. Going to the farmer’s market with my friends to get breakfast burritos or to just hang out by the lake makes for a great day.
The Dog Park
Ah, the dog park. There’s nothing quite like being smothered with kisses from a mob of dogs. The dog park in Ithaca provides the positivity of being outside, being active, and being around dogs.
I acknowledge that just because it’s sunny doesn’t mean that depression magically goes away. However, these activities help me manage the depression I have all year round as well. What’s important when you’re depressed is to get out of your routine, out of your bed, and to go outside and be active.