One woman said that she did not become sad in winter, but, increasingly, she'd dread the fall of the year, and hadn't a clue as to why. When it was suggested, among other possibilities, that her sadness might be affected by something that happened in the fall in her past she then remembered her unhappy school experiences and realized that the approach of the school term after summer vacation was the cause of her darkening mood at that time of year.
Some people are not unhappy in winter, but are mysteriously so at some other season of the year. Not only can events from the past be a sole cause of seasonal blues, but they can be contributing causes, stacked with other influencing situations, environments, and experiences to create the feeling that winter is not a pleasant or desired time of year.
The person above who dreaded the start of the school year had a recurring event to reinforce and strengthen the unhappy feeling that returned annually, even after school was not a problem anymore because she was grown up and no longer went to school.
Some experiences are so strong that a one time experience at a particular time of year or date brings on sad feelings every year thereafter. For example, when I was thirteen years old a tragedy in my extended family on Thanksgiving caused me to re-experience sadness on Thanksgivings many years later. It surfaced when I had a young family of my own, and puzzled me for years as to why I'd feel the way I did, until, one day I realized what the cause must have been.
If you look back into your past experiences you may find that things have happened in the winter that were unpleasant, sad, or traumatic. These experiences may be contributing causes to your present dislike for winter.
Winter has unpleasant weather, cold, windy, and dry, or wet and rainy, One's skin can become dry and scratchy. Clothing can be restrictive and a bother to pile on, take off, clean the mud or snow off, dry out.
In some parts of the country/world there is danger from freezing, danger from avalanche, danger from being stuck in the mud, danger from frostbite, windburn, and falling on slippery surfaces, danger from falling through thin ice, danger from storms.
Reduced Opportunity For Physical Activity
The weather and inconveniences of winter make people stay indoors more, and exercise less. Unless one enjoys winter sports, one can easily just let physical activity slide into basically getting from one place to another. The mood elevating endorphins created by exercise are then missing.
Less Outdoor Experience
Less time outdoors means less fresh air, less to see and do, less people to interact with, less opportunity to do things one enjoys in warmer months, less pleasure.
Winter has an isolating effect for many people. They may work in an office, or at home, and have little interaction with others during the winter months. Stay at home and work at home mothers and others experience "cabin fever," if they are isolated long enough in the winter.
Less Opportunity For Preferred Activity
Gardeners have to wait for spring, even if they have a few houseplants, or maybe even a lot, it's not like the great outdoors. Many sports require either an expensive indoor sports facility or must wait for spring, summer, and fall for participation. Walking is much easier from one's front door than driving to a mall or other indoor location to find a suitable place to walk in the winter. No garage sales, no picnics, no outdoor concerts, no visits to the beach.
Ah, yes, the biggie, the light. It's the light all right, but maybe not only the light. It can be some of the lack of light, and some of any or all of the above that stack to make winter a not fun time, a dreary time, long and lingering, nasty and brutal, or just make one want to sit in a warm chair and hibernate with a good book, any book at all.
So What's The Cure?
Many causes, many cures. Actually, I'd rather not think of them as cures, but as counterweights. The causative elements need to be balanced by actions you can take, for each one, to swing the balance back to the side of feeling good and being happy.
More about that in the next post.