“AND ALL at once, summer collapsed into fall...” For some reason, so did we. This quote by Oscar Wilde poetically describes the transition from summer to autumn, the sweltering hot air turning chilly. Before we knew it, we had grown used to the heat, enjoying our summers, savoring the glow of the sun caressing our skin, and feeling free from all kinds of burdens. But now, with the changing winds and the darkening atmosphere, we can’t help but feel a little depressed at the fact that the warmth will no longer be with us. Wilde used the word “collapse” in his quote, and rightfully so. Somehow, in the midst of the changing seasons, our feelings collapsed in on themselves as well, and the autumn blues have enveloped us.
The autumn blues
The autumn blues, much like the name implies, is a depressed feeling that many tend to experience as summer turns into fall. The main cause for this temporary depression lies in the changes that people must inevitably go through, which, in turn, could lead to unpleasant feelings. For example, as the weather gets colder and the skies turn gray, this transition impacts us psychologically as we end up feeling gloomier. Not only that, because summer is mostly associated with vacation and autumn is mostly defined by the start of a new semester, the shift from freedom to routine mentally shackles us. While it may be reasonable to feel depressed, there are surely ways to combat it. The Yonsei Annals decided to ask Yonseians if they have ever felt the autumn blues, and if so, what they did to free themselves from it.
Yang Soung-hyun (Soph., Dept. of English Language & Lit.)
The autumn blues can happen any time, especially for university students like us. People have their own ways to release themselves from such feelings. As for me, I have several ways to overcome the autumn blues. One of my most effective methods is to go shopping. When I buy something, I become hopeful and happy. Although it’s a short-lived happiness, it’s still very effective in getting rid of the seasonal blues.
My other preferred way to fight the autumn blues is to fill up my schedule with friends and family. Frequent hangouts with friends and family members are a great source of relaxation and pleasure; they drive away my negative thoughts! My last method is allowing myself to indulge in movies, dramas, and comedies without feeling the pressure of time. They entertain me and grab my focus so that I forget about feeling down. Filling yourself with positivity is potentially the best treatment to overcome loneliness.
Evelina Grusaite (Soph., Dept. of Korean Language & Lit.)
There are a couple of ways to get rid of the autumn blues. As the months of autumn and winter get colder, and dark hours grow longer, it naturally gets a little depressing. To cope with this, a good idea is to wake up right before sunrise and go to sleep shortly after sunset. This way, you get the most out of daylight and the light can give you positivity!
Another way to fight the autumn blues is to make time to enjoy the beautiful colors of autumn. The weather is perfect for outdoor activities like cycling, playing sports, or just walking in parks. In the process, you may enjoy the changing colors of the leaves. I personally love taking a stroll in the beautiful gardens of Korean palaces during the fall season because they are just breathtaking!
Another good way—and one of my personal favorites—to fight the moodiness of the colder seasons is to eat colorful food. Red, orange, yellow, green... you can bring in positive energy by including a bit of color in your meal! Eating foods like pumpkins, apples, various vegetables, or maybe even topping your food with colorful ingredients like cinnamon, go-chu-jang*, and a little piece of chocolate is definitely the way to go! The most important thing is to make the best out of what you have. Enjoy the autumn daylight and colorful nature, be active and treat yourself—it’s as simple as that!
Anonymous Interviewee (Sr., Dept. of Public Admin.)
Whenever I wish to get rid of the autumn blues, I try to find a quiet place where I can read a book or listen to my favorite music alone. If I have more free time to myself, I also like to watch movies of my favorite genres. It seems that the best way to get rid of the autumn blues is to focus on a specific thing, whether it is delving into your favorite book or focusing on your favorite movie. Not only that, because the weather gets a bit chillier, it’s also nice to take a walk for a while, which helps me with this temporary depression. As such, I would recommend taking some time for yourself instead of spending it with other people. For me, especially, doing things alone gives me more energy.
Park Jin-woo (Fresh., Dept. of Political Science & Int. Studies)
The autumn blues usually hits me around mid-September and it has a lot to do with the timing. You end up reflecting on how you spent the year, and you realize just how fast time passes by. This normally makes me both anxious and scared. The cold weather does not help much, and the falling leaves bring out more sadness in me.
When I have the autumn blues or any other psychological shifts, I usually absorb the pain and do not attempt to hide it or ease it away. The main reason I do this is that the melancholy has to do with the inner me, and, as such, it should be dealt with internally as well. If I were to compare it to the human body, it’s better to wait out the flu than to take a pill to get better. Of course, if you take medicine, you may probably feel better, but the drug itself would affect your immune system negatively. In other words, it is sometimes better to fight it than to take the easy way out to get better, as the easy way may end with long-term consequences. Taking medicine would surely make you feel better faster, but your immune system would lose its power overall.
Sadness brings about a feeling of vulnerability, which makes one feel as if they were being exposed. I personally advise to go somewhere alone and think about what caused that sadness instead of seeking out others for comfort. If you have a need to cry or let out any other emotions, do it without worrying about your surroundings. Sooner or later, you will find peace and happiness—because I can assure you that your life is not as miserable as you may think.
Anonymous Interviewee (Jr., UIC, Comparative Lit. and Culture)
I don't think I've ever felt the autumn blues. If anything, I feel the spring blues. I like to believe that each season has a distinct smell, and I particularly enjoy the smell of autumn. As the sweltering hot smell of summer fades away and the refreshing autumn one replaces it, the laziness I felt during the summer fades away, and an energy wells up within me. This makes me want to pursue goals and go out and do anything.
I have always enjoyed the start of the school year: it coincided with the start of autumn in the States, where I went to school. It meant that we would start anew, and I felt as if I could do whatever I wanted to. This is why, when autumn comes, I tend to take walks more often, open the windows in the evening to feel the soft wind hitting my skin, and turn on my favorite playlist while reading a book. Instead of feeling depressed with the changing seasons, I feel calmer and more relaxed.
Michael Kealy (Assistant Prof., University College, College English Program)
I have actually never felt the autumn blues. Autumn and spring are even my favorite seasons. I find the cool, comfortable weather ideal for outdoor activities such as biking and hiking.
Before this question, I was not even aware of the term “autumn blues.” As to why people get depressed in the autumn, I can only guess that they are perhaps fearing the approach of winter with its cold temperatures and the reduction of sunlight. My hometown of Ottawa, Canada, is known for its harsh winters. Many Ottawans actually enjoy the winter by participating in outdoor sports such as skiing and skating. Others plan vacations to warm-weather destinations like Mexico or the Caribbean. The key is to stay active and to give yourself something to look forward to.
* * *
Whether it is with friends, family, or just by yourself, there are various ways to overcome the autumn blues. Just as the trees need time to adapt to the change of seasons, humans also need to have a period of adjustment as well. It seems that the autumn blues are becoming a more common occurrence because we get swept up by our fast-paced society and end up forgetting to take care of ourselves. We need time to recharge, relax, and remember that it is okay not to feel good or happy all the time. Albert Camus once said, "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." Think of the falling leaves not as an end of a season, but as a shower of golden flowers signifying a new beginning.
*Go-chu-jang: Korean chili paste