Image by

The Fall Before the Storm

Every fall, I’m overcome with joy. Halloween is my favorite holiday, a monthlong affair filled with parties, haunted houses, and horror films. Beyond Halloween, autumn is the season of rebirth for me. In the fall of 2020, I made the decision to end a five-year-long relationship and begin therapy. Every year since, when the weather becomes cool, I’m brought back to that place, that decision to change my life in a way for which I will die grateful. Fall brings with it the comfort of nostalgia and tradition, and that comfort always makes me emotional, like I’m exactly where I need to be.

Unfortunately, the autumnal window very quickly closes and gives way to winter. I am not a winter hater by any means; I love Christmas, warm meals, and layering as much as the next girl. What I certainly am, however, is an acute sufferer of seasonal depression. I will forever sing the praises of the SAD lamp (although it stands for seasonal affective disorder, I think the name is quite apt), a UV lamp that effectively mimics sunlight for you to bask in during the winter months to improve your mood, but when living within capitalism, seasonal depression is impossible to avoid.

In tarot, the Death card signifies the precursor to rebirth. It may sound frightening, but the card serves as a reminder that before change comes, death must come first; beginnings can only come after endings. If we want something new, we must become comfortable with and embrace letting go of the old.

In this way, winter is the season of death. It is a reminder from nature that death is a part of the cycle, unavoidable, and that when we get to this point in the cycle, we must slow down as an act of mourning. Mourn the sun, mourn the longer days, mourn the warmth on our skin. All of this is so necessary and important that it takes up a quarter of our year.

One of the many, many problems with capitalism is its ignorance of this cycle. We are expected to work at the same level of productivity and activity year-round when our bodies and nature itself simply are not designed for that. As I get older, I realize that much of my seasonal depression symptoms are just signs of my body screaming at me, “Slow down!” and I don’t. I ignore these impulses in me because my expectations of myself do not change from summer to fall to winter. I expect myself to be social, to work hard, to be fully present with my friends and family, to push past the simple fact that I am tired.

What I call seasonal depression is simply that: a lack of energy that makes me feel lethargic, lazy, and sad when I ignore the fact that this lack of energy is completely natural. From November to February, I will be more tired and introverted and capable of producing less — and that’s okay.

As I enjoy my favorite season amid fears of the upcoming winter slump, I am working to remember that slowing down is not a bad thing, and that instead of fearing the season of death, I can instead prepare for it. Here are some ways to embrace slowing down this winter:

• Take a Warm Deep Stretch yoga class at Highland Yoga: Held in an 85-degree room, this warm, slow yoga class is a favorite of mine during the winter to warm me up and get my body moving in a way that is gentler and more conducive to my lower energy levels.

• Stay in your pajamas all day: When you have a day off, don’t fight the impulse to stay cozy in bed. Let your body have what it wants: comfort!

• Take a bath: Up the ante with this healing bath ritual. Add one cup of Epsom salt, three drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and three drops of peppermint essential oil to the bath. Light a blue pillar candle nearby, and while you soak, focus your energy on what you want to heal, whether it’s physical or emotional.

• Delete your social media: Because this is the season of slowing down, your impulse to doom scroll will be much stronger. Deleting your social media will keep the winter scaries at bay and give you a clear mind to focus on other means of relaxation.

• Cry: Repeat as necessary.