Survival Guide

How to be optimistic about your oncoming seasonal depression

Survival Guide
Caleb Walsh illustration

As seasonal depression approaches, I've found myself trying to plan for it by making lists of ways to stay motivated, things to focus on, and ways to trick my brain into ignoring its own bad attitude. But then I thought, maybe I'm going about this all wrong. Maybe the depression itself is a good thing. While it's true that seasonal depression can be a bummer due to the unshakeable negativity, lack of personal motivation, general never-ending blah-ness, and the fact that your life temporarily feels like a painful and meaningless path to nowhere, it's also true that there are ways to enjoy and benefit from those feelings. Here are a few ways that I've discovered.

You'll save a ton of money on your heating and electricity bills by never leaving your bed. Personally, I think this is one of the most overlooked financial tips for getting through the winter months. Stay in bed and watch those dollar signs roll in. When someone requests your presence somewhere other than your bed, kindly inform them that you are extremely busy building your nest egg.

You'll get a much-needed break from friends and loved ones. Somehow everyone's attitude, regardless of whether it is more negative or positive than your own, will make you feel worse about yourself, so 'tis the season to isolate yourself and not feel bad about it. When you can bring yourself to be around friends and family again, probably sometime in the spring, it'll be like a reunion. Exciting!

You'll get to eat as much garbage food and takeout as you want because there's very little reason to bother making a decent meal. Why would you put yourself through the discomfort of cooking when you already feel so sad and useless? Cookies by the roll. Various forms of microwave pizza. Loaves of bread like you're a cartoon peasant. All this, and more, can be yours.

You'll have loads of extra time, since you won't be interested in books or television or music or games or socializing or exercise or any of the things you used to enjoy. Excluding hobbies from your life will give you ample time for suddenly urgent feelings like emotional numbness, hostile introspection and unplaceable dread, just to name three!

Your skin will shine. Seasonal depression is like a vacation from personal hygiene. Naturally occurring beneficial bacteria will flourish from your lack of showering, flossing and brushing your hair, and the greasy buildup will leave you with a fashionable shiny glow.

You'll finally catch up on your sleep. It's not like there's any reason to do anything else.

Getting out of bed and doing something mildly productive will make you feel like a gold-medal athlete. When is the last time you were truly proud of yourself? What if I told you that you could achieve that feeling by doing something as simple as changing your socks? What if I told you that you could have that feeling once, twice, or maybe even three times per month?

Time management won't feel like such a priority. Wasting time won't make you feel bad about yourself, because your self-worth literally couldn't get any worse. Go ahead and play video games on your phone and mindlessly scroll through social media all day, because what difference does it make? Binge-watch a sitcom from 20 years ago while eating an entire box of saltines and drinking a bottle of wine you forgot to give your mom on her birthday, straight from the bottle. There's no downhill from here, so soak it in. ♦

Chelsea Martin is the Spokane-based author of five books, including Caca Dolce: Essays from a Lowbrow Life. Her website is

Pages of Harmony Annual Christmas Concert and Auction @ Millwood Community Presbyterian Church

Sat., Dec. 10, 6-7:30 p.m.
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