Rosalynn Davidson [she/her]
When the sun is struggling to peek out of the thick, grey clouds that seem to permanently hover over Glasgow, the idea of stepping foot outside of my flat seems like such a daunting task. I manage to get up and ready but often end up sitting at the edge of my bed, coat and shoes on, unable to convince myself to step out through the door, time ticking as the slender hours of decent sunlight fade into dusk.
This January Blues thing is no joke. I have tried everything. I even considered investing in one of those fancy sun lamps just to trick my brain into thinking I’m waking up to golden sunlight. When in reality, the dull January light barely creeps through my grey curtains, making it all the more difficult to drag myself out of bed.
Besides, it’s not the daytime in January that’s so difficult to cope with, rather the lack of reasonable daylight. Gone are the twinkly Christmas lights, bubbling pots of mulled wine, and a never-ending list of Christmas get-togethers that now seem like an entire lifetime ago. Once we’ve taken off the sparkly paper wrapped around the hope and promise of a ‘New Year, New You’, all we’re left with is the reality of blue Mondays and festive-free weekends.
However, it’s not all gloom. A walk on a drizzly afternoon can be brightened by a spontaneous hot chocolate or making the most of the early sunset to fill the kitchen with candles and have a wholesome meal in the warm light. As students, we often learn to live without some basic household items. This year I have learnt the value of a table and chairs, no longer holed up in my room eating alone, but instead sitting down with friends to enjoy a shared meal.
It’s so easy, with all of the wonders of Netflix, to hibernate, pull up the duvet and disappear into ourselves. And that’s ok, sometimes the outside world is more than we can deal with. But, sooner or later (and always sooner for me), we have to recognise that we’re social beings. Eating a meal with others is a fundamental part of human connection, and the best way to digest your day is over a home-cooked meal.
As someone who’s never really content with spending time alone, I made a commitment to ‘taking myself on a date’. Saying yes to every single social plan is the easiest way to burn out and spiral into a mess of anxiety so instead I marched my way into the city centre to buy a ridiculous number of candles and fairy lights and filled my small room with blankets and twinkling lights. By the end of the month, I have mastered my routine of skincare, yoga, and reading a book before bed. You might laugh at the simplicity of it, but it’s far too easy to clamber into bed only to lie awake playing over every interaction I’ve made with every single person I’ve ever met in my entire life.
So, in an attempt to overcome the existential dread that the cold weather brings, this is my current recipe for settling my mind and shrugging off the days:
1. Refrain from investing in any fads – sunset lamps are pretty but maybe commit to looking outside (floor 10 of the library has the best views.)
2. Try and enjoy the little things. Hot chocolate isn’t just for Christmas time! Ignore diet culture telling you that you shouldn’t be indulging after Christmas – when it’s bleak and miserable the last thing you need to be doing is depriving yourself of the things that make you happy.
3. Try to only make a few social plans, so that you can actually commit to putting full effort into them and avoid burning out so early on in the year. The bleakness of the colder months makes it tempting to fill every waking minute with something to do – don’t forget to feed your soul with some quality alone time.
4. Walk. Ok, sometimes I have to dash across campus to make it to a class in time, but when you’ve got the time try to notice the details around you rather than keeping your head down and headphones on to shut the world out. Like the little jazz band that randomly pops up in Kelvingrove park, there’s usually something in the moment to connect you to the rest of the world.