With the temperature dropping by the day, and daylight savings ending on Nov. 1, I want to bring your attention to seasonal affective disorder.
Around this time each year, the sun starts going down earlier in the day and it rises later than usual. For some of us, these yearly rhythms bring with them changes in our mental health and well-being.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression or mood disorder that occurs when seasons change. It is most common in the winter and for people who live in colder climates.
Students who experience daily stress are vulnerable to seasonal affective disorder. As such, many of us exhibit a weaker work ethic, a persistent sad mood, trouble sleeping, low energy and difficulty concentrating around this time each year.
I have a couple of suggestions for combatting these seasonal symptoms.
Spend time outdoors
It may be cold, but bundle up and get outside for some winter activities!
Participating in outdoor activities is one of the best ways to relieve stress and get together with friends and family safely, considering the pandemic.
You can go sledding, snowshoeing, skiing or embrace your inner child and build a snowman in your yard.
Anything that gets you out in the fresh air and gets your blood pumping will cause a release of endorphins that will help to improve your mood.
Embrace the holidays
Winter may be cold and dark, but it does bring with it a variety of holidays.
I have found that an effective way to beat the winter blues is to wholeheartedly embrace each holiday.
Put up decorations and watch your favourite holiday movies. It’s never too early to celebrate if that is what you need to help you through the winter semester.
Maintain a good sleep schedule
If you find that you feel more tired and less motivated as the weeks go on, stop and take a chance to observe your sleep schedule.
Are you staying up all night to work on assignments just to sleep away the next day?
Your sleep schedule is important, especially if you feel as though you may be suffering from the effects of SAD. Try to get yourself into bed nice and early, so that you have ample time to rest.
Take it easy on yourself
When I start to feel a lack of motivation, and I feel as though I don’t have as much energy as I normally do, my golden rule is to take it easy on myself.
When I start to feel too tired during the day to take on any more tasks, I tell myself that it’s okay. I know that I work hard most of the time and that I deserve a break when I feel like I need one, even if I need more frequent breaks in the winter.
Treat yourself with compassion and give yourself time off when you need it. Try your best to keep your environment low-stress so you can focus on only one task at a time.
If you start to feel sad or lonely this winter, please reach out. There are plenty of kind professionals at the Student Wellness and Counselling Centre that are there to help you.
Don’t forget there is a whole community of MUN students, many of whom who will relate to your experiences, so make sure you talk to each other about how you’re feeling.