By Evelyn Heis, Film & TV Editor
I would be lying if I said Autumn wasn’t my favourite time of the year. With the transitioning auburn colours and the abundance of fallen leaves on every path, the twinkling fairy lights and dozens of cups of hot chocolate, there’s undeniably something extra special lingering in the air during this time of the year. Perhaps prompted by the ‘justgirlythings’ fall aesthetic posts which early-day Tumblr fans will remember, or through timeless classics like Gilmore Girls (2000-2007), Twin Peaks (1990-1991) and Notting Hill (1999), people are in love with the appeal of autumn.
Stepping aside from these inevitably comforting shows, the reality for most, however, is a lot less cosy cottagecore and Stars Hollow glamour, instead resembling things like Bojack Horseman (2014-2020) or Silver Linings Playbook (2012)- with a lot less Hollywood drama and a lot more emphasis on the depressed main characters. As a post-pandemic society, it’s actually unsurprising that many of us experience a type of sadness when the colder months start creeping in, and the sun starts going down at 4pm. It’s literally criminal that it gets dark so early.
I think I enjoyed about two seconds of the autumnal weather before I found myself severely lacking in the motivation to get out of bed. I seriously resembled the girl on the cover of Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018). Be it because I’m a third-year student, crippled with the looming deadline of my dissertation, or due to the fact that the cold and gloomy weather can significantly impact your mood.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found out what this seasonal blues was called and that it was actually pretty common. It’s often referred to as SAD, which stands for ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’, and as the name suggests, due to the lack of sunlight in the autumnal and winter months, some people produce less serotonin and melatonin, leading to a depression that is inherently caused by the colder seasons. It gives the phrase ‘feeling under the weather’ a pretty literal meaning.
What makes it worse is wanting to participate in all the fun, autumnal activities, like strolling through the fairy-lit Christmas steps and going out pumpkin picking, but feeling like your body is restraining you because you feel so tired all the time.
Now, I’m by no means an expert when it comes to dealing with seasonal depression, but I have had my fair share of winter blues over the last few years, and during this time, I have been able to accumulate some tips that have helped to improve my well-being, despite this being out of my control.
For starters, I’m a big believer in listening to your body and not forcing yourself to be productive on the days that you’re just not feeling it. Sometimes, it’s best to take a step back and give yourself a break so you don’t inevitably burn yourself out, believe me, I would know. At least once a week, I try to give myself a self-care day, whereby I won’t force myself to try to complete all of the tasks on my ever-growing to-do list, and I’ll set a lighter, more realistic goal for the day that I can get done from the comfort of my bed.
To fully immerse yourself in this semi-productive day of rest, putting on your favourite tv show or film in the background is an absolute must. Currently, my self-care days consist of putting on the Twilight (2008) Sagas for the millionth time or rewatching Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) and Gossip Girl (2007-2012), though I will be switching to, and I am extremely looking forward to it, the Harry Potter (2001) films come December.
There’s just something extremely comforting about putting on your favourite films and shows when you’re feeling down. The familiarity and nostalgia attached to them almost feel like a warm hug, and it’s one of my favourite healers for when I need a pick me up.
Now, this is one of my most recent discoveries, but I hate to say that the adults in our lives were actually right. I have found that taking my dose of daily vitamins, with an added Vitamin D supplement for my SAD girlies, has actually helped me in the grand scheme of things. Taking my vitamins in the morning has led to me starting to eat breakfast before I have them, and so I’m finding that I have a lot more energy throughout the day- who would have known???
Eating consistently throughout the day and topping myself up with caffeine has really helped to reduce my fatigue and desire to lie in bed all day, and I believe that taking my vitamins ensures that I’m getting those extra nutrients too. Alternatively, taking myself on a daily hot girl walk, blasting Em Rata's new podcast or the Les Miserables (2012) soundtrack through my headphones has become a part of my everyday routine.
Walking to and fro from the library, or even just taking the long way to walk home, is a nice way for me to take a break from the books and get those endorphins going. As much as being asked, 'have you tried going for a walk?' by mental health professionals used to infuriate me, I hate to say that maybe they were onto something all along.
While we may not be able to control the weather- insert Kelso's 'Well Damn Jackie, I can't control the weather!' from That '70s show (1998-2006)- or the way our bodies react to it, one thing that we can all do is just be a little bit kinder to ourselves during this time.
Taking the time to show ourselves some love through rewatching our favourite shows and comfort films, taking it one day at a time, is the best medicine. As much as I love the colder months, it's nice to listen to my body and take it easy, despite it all.
What do you like to do when you're feeling under the weather?