Keep Warm 2023

Keep Yourself Warm

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How to Make a Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Kamper Cocktail

From Marceil Van Camp at Kamp Social House

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Where to Find The Stranger in Print

Looking for a Copy of Keep Warm, Your Essential Winter Holiday Guide? You Can Pick One Up from the Following Locations!

Comfort Zone

The Coziest Bars, Restaurants, and Coffee Shops in Seattle

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How Well Local Wildlife Will Keep You Warm, Tauntaun Style

Keep Warm 2023

How to Survive a Seattle Winter

How to Survive SAD

Real Tips from a Mental Health Expert

Meet Your Maker: Jessica Lynch

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Meet Your Maker: Renny Cobain

Get to Know Local Creators Making Gift-Worthy Goods

Winter Events

Holiday Shows! Shimmering Light Displays! Fireworks! And (Ugh) SantaCon.

Nobody in Seattle is exaggerating when they refer to the period between November and March as the Big Dark. The gloom and doom of 4 pm sunsets may be fun to joke about (hello, coping mechanism), but this seasonal change packs a punch for about 5% of Americans. The short days, cold temperatures, and shitty weather can cause feelings of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or appropriately, SAD. Winter can also exacerbate symptoms of pre-existing depression and anxiety diagnoses. 

Up here in the great gray north, where the days are shorter and the sun enjoys long, drawn-out disappearing acts, us Seattleites are well acquainted with SAD—and not just because we’re consistently the “saddest metro area” in the United States. Transplants and natives alike know what it takes to get through a Seattle winter with their wits intact.

Local mental health professional Nancy Haver moved to Seattle from the Los Angeles area in the 1980s. “The winter was a shock to me,” Haver said.

That seasonal shift comes on fast, Haver explained. Before even all the leaves have fallen, the clocks turn back and the darkness comes. “What I notice in my clients is that sense of almost an anxious feeling. That anxiety I see is based in fear.”

There’s a literal fear of the darkness, Haver said, but there’s also a kind of claustrophobia that comes from the hunkering down we do in winter. “The change in weather and light brings this sense of needing to be insulated from the outdoors. That affects your brain and it affects your emotions.”

You don’t have to live closed off to the world with only anxiety and the landlord-controlled radiator for company. Haver offers some tips for dealing with our forever enemy, the Big Dark.

Bring In the Light

“If it is darkness that’s causing SAD, find a way to get in the light,” Haver said. “Open the blinds, get light into your living space. Turn on more lights, do some light therapy.” That could mean using a lightbox or some other kind of phototherapy. She adds that if you buy a lightbox, use one with 10,000 lumens. Sit in front of it every morning while you eat breakfast or put on your makeup.

Bring In Other People

“Stay in touch with the people you care about,” Haver said. “Find ways to participate with other people.” That could mean Zooming with them from the comfort of your couch or braving the weather to go to the movies or a show.

Talk to a Therapist

If you’re feeling down—especially if you have a history of depression—talk to a therapist. “Depression isn’t just feeling sad,” Haver said. “There’s a sense of isolation, guilt, hopelessness, anxiety, self-loathing, and sadness. Feeling any of those? Reach out for someone and get help.”

Remember It’s Not Just You

“A lot of times when people are faced with a mental health issue, they don’t know it yet,” Haver said. “They get into a place of, ‘I’m the only one.’ People are going through the same things around here.” People can feel shameful or guilty for these types of feelings, Haver said. They shouldn’t. “There’s no reason to feel ashamed at feeling sad, lonely, and blue during dark winters. You just need to figure out how not just to survive but thrive in a Seattle winter.”

Bring In the Joy

“Think about the things that bring you joy,” Haver said. “That can be petting your dog or cat, talking to a friend, bundling up and going for a walk, binging something on Netflix. When we’re in a funk like [SAD], we can feel like that funk is everything, like ‘I am swimming in this soup.’ Well, move the soup to another place at the table. Take care of you.”

If Haver’s thinking about what to do to bring her joy, she’s “going to work a jigsaw puzzle,” she said. “I’m going to rewatch all of Ted Lasso.” The most important thing is to not deny your feelings of joy.

“Find your favorite turtleneck, and wear it. Find your favorite sheets, and sleep in them.”

Remember That Spring Always Comes

Haver likes to remind herself of things to be hopeful for when she’s feeling hopeless. Remember, for instance, during the third straight week of dark, rainy days that the sun will eventually come out, the green on the trees will return, and flowers will bud: It will be spring.

“All of [winter] gives us this beautiful place we get to live in. What is the cost of living in this place? It’s winter.” In the meantime, think of the little things that give you hope. For Haver, it’s pumpkin pie.

The winter will always be here. Get out of the house, get some exercise, and try to enjoy the unique experience that is living in this wet, dark place. Waterproof shoes, jackets, and pants can help make enjoying the wet part easier. There’s more to life than your four walls, even in the dark.


If you or someone you know is experiencing a behavioral health crisis, consider calling King County’s Crisis Connections line at 206-461-3222 or 866-427-4747 or visiting www.crisisconnections.org for help. Services are available 24 hours a day 356 days a week.