The last months of the year bring the holidays and the joy that the season can bring. But the start of the new year also means shorter days and longer nights, which can mean the winter blues for some. More formally understood as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which the Mayo Clinic defines as "a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. While in some cases, SAD can occur during the spring to the summer, it's more likely to happen in the transition from fall to winter.
Although I've been diagnosed with both depression and anxiety at different times in my life, I never really considered the seasons had anything to do with it. But when we set our clocks back for Daylight Savings early in November, I felt a shift in mood. I've found myself to be more easily upset or to have a difficult time concentrating on work. I've felt sad and rather listless, ending up lying in bed staring at the wall or my phone without much to show for the day.
It's important to remember that if you're feeling this way as well that you're not alone. The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that 4 to 6 percent of the population suffers from "winter depression," while another "10 to 20 percent may have mild SAD." While I can't offer any real help — only your doctor or licensed therapist can provide that! — I have found that allowing myself some time to sit and read. Whether it's a book that details someone else's experience with mental illness or grief, or it just makes me laugh out, just the act of reading takes my mind off myself and allows me to enjoy the winter.
1. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
If you've never read David Sedaris' essay "SantaLand Diaries," you're in for a treat. Detailing his often comical experience as an elf at Macy's Herald Square, Sedaris' take on holiday labor is guaranteed to make you laugh, and if you've ever worked in retail around the holidays, nod along in recognition. Even with other holiday essays, Holidays on Ice is worth it just for "SantaLand Diaries" alone.
2. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
With everything from stories of her childhood to reflections on her Parks and Recreation co-stars to pages of inspirational wisdom from the woman herself, Amy Poehler's first book is the next best thing to going out with your hilarious friends because you can spend time with Amy Poehler's genius, but you don't need to leave bed.
3. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
Based on Allie Brosh's popular blog Hyperbole and a Half, her instantly recognizable drawings and comics delve into her struggles with depression. Brosh's book will not only help you feel less alone, but show you that even when you're feeling depressed that its no reflection on the work you can (and will) do.
4. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Sometimes the best way to deal with being sad in general — depression or not — is to get outside yourself a bit by diving into a world completely different from your own. Enter Elena Ferrante's wildly popular Neapolitan Novels, which may have you completely obsessed with the series one page in.
5. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Sometimes you just want to read a fun story without an overwhelming plot or intricate character development. Confessions of a Shopaholic is usually what I turn to when I need an easy breezy read that I can finish in an afternoon.
6. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Yes, why not you? It's easy to get in a rut and doubt yourself, whether you're feeling blue or not. In her latest book, Mindy Kaling offers her insights on adapting and growing through whatever life throws your way. It's like a good pep talk. You'll be reminded how you can absolutely tackle whatever obstacle is ahead of you.
7. Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg
Based on "Texts From" column at The Hairpin, Mallory Ortberg brings her riotous wit and charm to classic novels and epic poems, re-imagining literary conversations from Gilgamesh all the way to Sweet Valley High . It may be just the ray of sunshine your day needs.
8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
There's always something comforting about returning to an old favorite, whether it's the second or the 31st time. It's the reading equivalent of cozying up under the covers with a big of cup of tea or having a meal of your favorite comfort foods. Re-living Harry Potter's first steps into the world of wizards and Hogwarts is certain to give you all the (good) feels.
9. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
Despite her depression and anxiety, Jenny Lawson decided to take a "furiously happy" approach to her life. While the results don't always go according to plan, Lawson's memoir is an important reminder that being depressed doesn't mean you can't have fun and be happy. The moments may not come as easily as to others, but it's critical to remember that it's possible.
10. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
After the death of her father, Helen Macdonald decided to learn falconry with the notorious and dangerous goshawk. About taking risks and working through one's grief, Macdonald's memoir reminds us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that a return to a new kind of normalcy is possible.
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