A woman holds a glowing light close to her heart, as symbols of seasons passing float around her.

Seasonal Anxiety

This is the most dangerous time of the year for some. If you are like me, depression and anxiety start to have their way with me in the afternoons, just as dusk sets in.

It hits me yearly as the clocks are set back, and the air gets cooler. There is just too much nighttime and not enough sunshine on these days.

What having seasonal anxiety is like

As the days get colder and snow falls, making it harder for me to get out of the house, I have to deal with cabin fever.

Feeling depressed

If I allow depression to blanket my days, my breathing becomes a bit harder, my feet swell more, and I seem to have an overall malady feeling. Less light so early in the afternoon fills me with a sense of dread for no particular reason.

These particular days even exercising seems like too much of an effort. I combat this depression by working hard to find gratitude and keeping a positive attitude. Sometimes days, though, it feels like I am climbing out of a barrel of molasses.

High levels of anxiety

Adding to this time of year is the anxiety of the upcoming holidays and their financial and physical obligations. It’s not easy to do what you always did when you are on a pension with limited funds.

As tough as it is, expectations should be lowered. Shopping in stores is almost impossible for me these days, and I still miss seeing the selection of items available.

Now, I have to accept someone else’s opinion on purchases through online reviews.

Making myself happy

The bigger problem is spreading myself as thin as possible while making everyone, including me, happy. It takes me a while to figure out what I want, what I need, and what my obligation to others means.

I must advocate for myself because I am my only priority. I make rules that guide me and intend to stick by them guilt-free.

Living with COPD is frustrating; some days are just worse than others. As I deeply mourn the losses my body is experiencing, I feel betrayed and have to force myself to let it go.

My mind is willing, but my lungs are weak, and it becomes more important to recognize this. I try to keep things in perspective, knowing that not everyone enjoys the holidays, and I have to be OK with that.

Making my own holiday rules

I have a set of holiday rules that I have adopted over the years. These help me get through these long, dark months.

  • Stop going into debt buying gifts for loved ones. Your love is not measured by how much you spend
  • Advocate for yourself and take a stance on seeing friends and family if it will upset you. You are your only obligation
  • Plan to get as much done as possible in advance and take small steps to get the job done.
  • Be aware of how much you are eating, your alcohol intake, and your sleep schedule
  • Practice mindfulness and stay in the moment as it is happening. Then on the bad days, we can play it back and revisit.

Do you experience seasonal anxiety? How do you get through it?

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 7th, 2024, Barbara Moore passed away. Barbara’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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