By now, the “Winter Term Blues” have settled in as we reach the halfway point of the term. The clouded, dreary days seem endless, especially when most of us are dreaming of summer nights. Seasonal Affective Disorder has made its presence well-known on most college campuses around the country. My RA freshman year even created a bulletin board on how to tackle the “Winter Term Blues” to help lift our spirits and establish a healthy mindset during these chilly times. Remember to reach out to Drexel’s Office of Counseling and Health Services if you are in need of help! I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to dealing with SAD, but here are a few ways I maintain a positive attitude during most students’ least favorite term of the year.
Sunlight is just as important to us as it is to plants. We may not go through the process of photosynthesis, but natural light helps improve mood, reduce drowsiness and increase overall productivity. As students, we spend a majority of our time indoors studying or working, and we don’t have time to spend hours on end sitting outside trying to soak up sunlight.
However, because of the already limited amount of daylight during the winter months, just opening up the blinds in your room can do wonders! There are also many places on campus that receive a ton of natural light, whether you want to hit the books or just hang out with friends. The Korman Center and lower level of PISB are two more commonly known locations, but at the end of the hallway on PISB’s second floor is a great study nook that looks out onto Chestnut Street. The sets of high tables and chairs that line the windows of the Daskalakis Athletic Center have become increasingly popular, too. It’s obviously more difficult to spend time outdoors when it’s so cold outside, but any amount of natural light is beneficial for our physical and mental health.
A common symptom of SAD is social withdrawal, which is an easy hole to fall into if you aren’t proactive about fighting it. I’m guilty of spending my night curled up under a blanket and watching Netflix after a long day. However, sometimes you just have to force yourself out the door. Whether it’s a quick trip to the grocery store with your roommates or finishing math homework at the library with friends, it’s important to surround yourself with others to fight off feelings of isolation. When it becomes too cold to even think about going outside, baking or having movie nights in the comfort of your dorm or apartment are great alternatives. When you spend time socializing with friends, a chemical reaction, known as the dopamine reaction, takes place in the brain, making us feel happier. The term is stressful enough as it is, but, by taking the time to connect with people, we can lessen the tension and help ourselves to relax.
Weather has a major impact on how active we feel, and in the winter, the cooler weather tends to make people feel sleepier earlier and feel a general desire to hibernate. This is when it is most important to keep your blood flowing and your heart rate up. For some, this may mean heading to the gym and using the machines or lifting weights. I prefer the exercise classes, since I get to see my friends and get an upbeat work-out in at the same time.
But exercising comes in all forms! The DAC offers lap swim time, or you could shoot some hoops in a pick-up game, or you can walk the track while listening to your favorite tunes. While sleep is important for us to function properly on a day-to-day basis, too much sleep is not good for the body either. By staying active, our mind is given a much deserved break, and a new activity is added to our day, which can change up the mundane daily routine some of us fall into. This also can increase our quality of sleep and help us feel refreshed and awake, even if we didn’t get to sleep in for very long.
Winter is in full force, but that doesn’t mean we have to catch those blues. While maintaining a positive outlook may be difficult with the never-ending midterms and frosty weather, there are many ways we can improve our day, even if it’s simply by catching up with a friend or spending some time outside. In some cases, a change of scenery can make a big difference as it helps us break a cycle we feel locked into. Try to implement some of these tips into your day when you begin to feel the “Winter Term Blues” coming through.