Taking a closer look at the different ways people react to the colder months
November. The days get colder, the nights get longer, and colorful leaves blanket the ground everywhere you look. For some, this is the best time of the year—a time for anticipating Thanksgiving Break, enjoying Starbucks’s winter menu, and having an excuse to spend more time inside. But for others, this marks the beginning of a long, difficult few months spent missing the fun and sun of spring and summer.
Whether they do enjoy the limbo between autumn and winter or don’t, everyone has a variety of reasons why—and very few of them are as simple as merely bad weather or the approaching holidays.
Ashley Yu (11) feels most alive during the daytime. “I love it when sunlight is beaming through my window, all warm on my skin,” she says, reflecting on the nearly year-round warmth we experience in the Bay Area. According to WebMD, receiving adequate sunlight is important for maintaining healthy levels of serotonin, the “happy” hormone. Getting enough time in the sun can even assist with stress management; sun rays can trigger the release of a compound called nitric oxide, which can lower blood pressure. Naturally, the cooler months aren’t the most convenient time to get such benefits.
“[Now] the weather is so gloomy, and it just makes you feel a certain way… it makes you feel down,” Yu confirms. “And now that it’s becoming more and more frequent, it’s starting to take its toll.”
The dreary weather we associate with fall and wintertime can translate to some unforeseen effects. “It just makes me feel more introverted… I don’t really know how to explain it. I feel more recluse, less likely to talk to other people,” Yu describes.
The issue with waning sunlight is that it doesn’t completely resolve itself until winter ends, meaning that these feelings of social isolation are long-lasting. That can make for a season that feels monotonous and hopeless.
“Everything is so gloomy outside, and you’re stuck in this routine of going to school and then coming home and doing homework and then you go to sleep and do it all over again the next day,” Yu says. “There’s no variety, and it makes me feel like I’m living on autopilot.”
On the other side of the spectrum, however, are people like Aradhya Kongara (11), who associate very different feelings with this time of year.
“Something about this season is so cozy and warm,” she says. “It’s perfect for staying at home all cozy in your blankets, drinking hot chocolate… I really like it because it’s a time of togetherness.”
Besides the feelings and emotions this time of year evokes in people, extracurriculars can play a role in their enjoyment as well.
“One of my hobbies is art. And I love getting all cozy in my room and lighting a candle and just drawing or painting in my room when it’s colder especially,” Kongara states. “I play basketball, too, which is a winter sport.”
However much these reasons play a role in why people like the fall and winter seasons, they disregard one of the biggest, most obvious highlights of the fall and winter seasons: the approaching holidays.
“Getting ready for Christmas and looking for presents for other people is so fun,” says Madyson Tran (9). “I know it’s early, but me and my friends and family have already started talking about it.”
Even for those who don’t come from very festive backgrounds, the holidays are a source of excitement and provide an end goal to look forward to when life feels dreary and joyless.
“My family doesn’t [celebrate,] but I try to go all out,” Kongara says. “I’m the one who’s always giving everyone presents, and making plans for Secret Santas or Friendsgiving.”
These are just some of the views people hold of this time of year, and what remains true is how polarizing it can be. However, there are some things people on both sides can agree on: it’s very important to practice self-care when things feel extra tough.
“Remember that even if it might not feel okay now, and might not feel okay for a long time, things always pass,” suggests Yu.
“Let yourself feel things,” Kongara adds. “Spending time with loved ones can always make things feel more bearable.”
Madyson advises people to keep in mind both the positive and negative aspects of this time of year. “It may be getting cold. It’s getting darker, earlier. But you’re getting a lot more breaks and some time to rest and re-energize. It all balances out.”