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Winter in Berlin: how to cope without the sun for weeks

The short answer: “Spaziergang” or hot girl walks

Berlin had its first snow fall a couple of days ago and it’s not even December yet! The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping as low as -3C (26F). And with this, we barely see the sun or it comes out in short bursts. My body feels lethargic after consistent grey days that not even high dosages of vitamin D could remedy. I underestimated, or perhaps I was never ever prepared, for sunlight’s effect on my mental and physical health.

As someone from a country that only has 2 seasons (wet and dry) and after experiencing winter in Berlin and other parts of Europe, it can really suck the life out of a person. November and December months are still great and picturesque because of all the festivities, bright lights, and Christmas markets. After that though, we have to strap on and brace ourselves until Spring comes.

The main thing that keeps me sane is movement. “Spaziergang” is a German word for leisurely strolls or as I prefer to call it hot girl walk, that everyone engages in regardless of the weather. With proper clothes, winter walks are refreshing and instantly wakes up my sluggishness. I can go for just 15 mins on my lunch breaks while listening to music or podcast and it helps a lot.

More coping strategies to keep seasonal depression at bay:

Sports/fitness: Other than that walking outdoors, engaging in any sports and fitness — run, pilates, yoga, gym, sauna, etc — are great to boost the happy hormones.

Learn or play: long nights are the best for getting cozy with a book, experimenting with new recipes, or learning new skills or hobbies. There are lots of options that are indoors and can be a social activity with friends or a partner.

It was during winter months (2021-22) that I put my head down and studied German from A2-B2.1 levels. It was also when I did my driving lessons (2022-23) and eventually got my German driving license. This year, I’m taking product management courses hoping to eventually break into tech next year.

Travel: yep, this is the perfect time to getaway, if you ask me. There are 2 options here:

One, go to really colder places where everything is covered in snow and do winter activities like ski, snowboard, and sauna. My favorite places are the Dolomites Alps and basically anywhere in Scandinavia.

On the other hand, go to really warm places and escape the cold months altogether! Go anywhere in Southeast Asia and expect lots of sun and warm beaches.

Shop for proper clothing: forget being stylish! In harsh winters, keeping warm is the main priority. Invest in proper coats, wool clothing, and accessories (socks, beanies, etc). Look for shoes that will keep the feet warm and dry.

Flu shots: it’s a prevention measure from getting sick during the season. Taking the shot just takes the worry away.

Therapy: really, it does help. find a therapist that you get along with and get the support you need. if you’re an immigrant too, trying to fit in a new place, it can be overwhelming and it’s okay to feel that way.

There are obviously days when it’s hard to move at all and that’s ok too! Winter months are harsh and it’s just the way it is. As much as I want to whine and complain about being cold and miserable, there’s nothing else to do but adapt and hold on until Spring comes around.

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