Why We Must Avoid Becoming Victims of Winter Blues?

by Hurmat Altaf

There are certain battles in our lives that we must fight alone. There is not a single being in this world who is without sorrows, but ultimately, it is our choice to be happy in its true sense; it is up to us whether we want to be a fighter or a loser.

The Tourists tookpsych photos near icicles in north Kashmir’s Tangmarg area on 28 December 2018. Kashmir valley is witnessing intensified cold this winter. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

With the advent of the modern era, we witnessed a lot of changes in each and every aspect of life. The modern age has, no doubt, brought with it a number of positive changes, At the same time, however, we cannot deny the fact that it has disturbed our mental peace as well.

The age in which we are living is one where there is cut-throat competition in everything, followed by greed, materialism, and jealousy. So, in such an environment, we tend to fall easily into the trap of stress and anxiety. It becomes inevitable at times for most of us to stay strong. As an individual, you have to tackle various pressures and strains.

We may have noticed that anxiety and depression are increasing at an alarming rate among young people nowadays. It could be for various reasons, be it their studies, career, peer pressure, family pressure, and so on. If we take the example of studies, we can say that it has become a competition rather than a learning process, which it was in previous eras.

In the cutthroat competition, one loses one’s own self. They are not able to handle or tackle the situation, and thus they become the victims of it. It is unfortunate, however, because this is considered to be the most beautiful period of life because it is a time when a person has to discover himself and his purpose in life.

As Paulo Coelho says in one of his notable works, there are two important events in human life: one when he is born and the second when he discovers why, and in my opinion, it is only in our youth that we discover the purpose of our being.

It is understandable that amidst all this, one becomes utterly melancholic and simultaneously is unable to fathom how to figure things out. But we should remember one thing: our mental health is our first priority, and we have to take care of ourselves in terms of the same. There is no such thing as unresolved grief in the world. So, being sanguine about things has become the need of the hour.

Singers performing in Gulmarg Winter festival on March 5, 2022

Having said that, the weather has a huge impact on our psyche. We live in a place where there is harsh or cold weather most of the time, and it has been scientifically proven that people living under these conditions are more vulnerable to or prone to things like depression and thus suffer from “the winter blues.”

The medical name for this winter depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is a mood disorder characterised by depression that occurs at the same time every year. It occurs in climates where there is less sunlight and shorter days at certain times of the year.

As Bertolt Brecht, one of the greatest playwrights says in one of his notable dramas, “…and the whole winter season too; that is dangerous; for in the face of misery, only a little is needed before men start throwing their unbearable lives away.” As a result of the harshness of winter, mental traumas occur.

In Kashmir, we witness a harsh winter for a period of forty days, which is traditionally called Chillai Kalan. It starts from December 21 to January 31 every year. The said term is basically a Persian word that literally means “major cold.” During this period, we witness a major fall in the temperature, heavy rain and snowfall, shorter days, and barely visible sunlight. Thus, these conditions naturally affect the psyche of an individual, and they tend to become exposed to a type of winter depression called SAD.

Owing to all the aforementioned things, we ought to come to the realisation that mental health should be our first priority. Living in such a competitive society followed by harsh or cold weather is unavoidable, but we must not allow our emotions to become a suppressed rage deep within our hearts.

There are certain battles in our lives that we must fight alone. There is not a single being in this world who is without sorrows, but ultimately, it is our choice to be happy in its true sense; it is up to us whether we want to be a fighter or a loser.

Hurmat Altaf

Moreover, we ought to keep this in mind: no matter what happens, we have to fight back, as life is a beautiful experience and not a roller coaster ride. We don’t have to act as a dead fish against the stream but have to move along the tides and above all be happy; as Rabindranath Tagore has rightly said, “It is very simply to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple,” so we should not think about the future so much and should learn to live in the present, as our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future but from wanting to control it (Khalil Jibran).

Thus, I would like to conclude with the quote from Robert Frost: “In these four words I can sum up everything I have learned in my eighty years of life; it goes on.”

(The author is pursuing BA Honours in English from Cluster University Srinagar, Kashmir. Ideas are personal.)


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