Fighting the Winter Blues

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It’s that time of year…yet again in less than two weeks. Last week was a slight (emphasis on the slight) relief from grey skies, incessant rain and mushy, dirty snow. There’s no doubt that harsh weather such as this can definitely make your mood go down a notch or two. So…what would I recommend?

winterblues

Big mood

Well, taking out time for yourself (or at least trying to). Based on my experience—I won’t lie and say statistics since I’m not really a quantitative person—the ability to engage in a hobby you really enjoy, even for half an hour on a daily basis, can really boost your mood. Especially during bleak days such as this one. So, whether it’s writing, knitting, just having a chat with a close friend or doing some non-class related reading: go for it! You’ll notice an instant brightening of your mood and the day won’t seem so long and dreary anymore. You’ll also be more willing to go back to that LSJ reading that takes time to wrap your head around (just a friendly tip).

Remind yourself that it will get better… Clichéd I know, but this one actually works. Every now and then (and who doesn’t feel that way sometimes) we’re tempted to tell ourselves that the sky will always be grey and birds won’t chirp and we’ll always be forced to go out in our ugly boots and try not to fall down the steps from Taylor to Drown. But trust me that Spring will return soon and you’ll start to enjoy the semester (if not now then at least when the grey skies soon start to fade away!) Having a mantra or phrase to keep your spirits up is a great way to keep that hope alive.

Use this time as an opportunity to reflect on some self-improvement… One of the main things that gets to a lot of us with seasonal depression is not only recurrent moodiness but also the impression that a) maybe our New Year resolutions won’t ever really work out since we’re still stuck in the cycle of bad habits or b) that some of the things we may dislike about ourselves won’t ever change. Wrong. Use the recurring theme of sleet and grey skies and the corresponding landscape of your emotions to change the way you feel about yourself and to ask yourself: should I try to better my mood and start improving some of the habits I want to create? Should I use this time to start waking up early, reading more often just like I planned, catching up on my readings and assignments and using my time more meaningfully or should I just lie around waiting for the weather to turn better before I actually do something?

You might consider talking to a counselor, close friend or family member if nothing seems to be helping…  I’ve given three tips that have helped me in the past when tough weather gets me down but in case you want some support from others, then maybe it’s time you went into talk to one of the counselors at the Health Center or just sat down and talked to a friend or family member about how you feel. While feeling down during days of extreme weather conditions or suffering from cabin fever during such days is common enough, if you continue feeling down in the dumps and note changes such as weight loss, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, anxiety and just general restlessness, chances are you may be suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in which case seeking help from a professional may be just what you need. Despite the stigma attached to SAD, SAD has been proven to be a real medical condition that may require visiting a therapist or health professional.

Winter-blues

Realtime photo of a graduate student after reading this blog post

Hopefully the tips I shared will help everyone as the Winter season continues! And remember: if a problem really does not seem to go away despite your best efforts, it’s never too late to talk to a loved one or professional. After all, your health matters far more than any social stigma ever could.

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