Halfway through the spring semester, we all hit our breaking point. Midterms are happening, so we’re stressed. Spring break is so close, but still just out of reach. We’re cooped up inside because of lower temperatures or tundra-like settings. Our hopes for warmer weather are swept away every year when Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow (How can there really be six more weeks of this?!).
What you may not know is part of the reason we start to feel down this time of year is because of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), though actual diagnosis can only be confirmed by a doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD symptoms start in the fall and last through the winter months, sapping your energy and leaving you feeling moody. This is caused by the reduced level of sunlight that causes your body’s internal clock to be disrupted and your serotonin and melatonin levels to become unbalanced.
While some people do have SAD, most people just have some of the symptoms without the official diagnosis. Mayo Clinic says that symptoms include irritability, tiredness, oversleeping, appetite changes and weight gain.
But I’m here to tell you that it will all be over shortly. Once the sun starts coming out and the temperatures start rising, you’ll be able to walk leisurely around campus and even open up your windows. You’ll start soaking in some vitamin D and all your worries will melt away like the snow.
In the meantime, here are some tips to keep yourself going until spring:
By getting enough sleep, eating healthy and exercising, you can combat some of the negative feelings you get. Meditation and yoga can also help.
Manage your stress
Let’s be honest, as college students we’re always stressed. But stress can make seasonal depression worse, so try to limit it. Getting organized by planning out your days and creating to-do lists can help.
Maybe you need a good meal or a night of Netflix. While you may not be able to afford the meal or afford taking time to binge watch a show, it could help. Take a little you time and remind yourself spring is around the corner.
Soak up the sun
If you’re lucky enough to go to school where it’s sunny, yet cold, or even if the sun is out for a few hours, sit by a window to let the rays hit you. If you’re brave, take a walk. The vitamin D will help boost your mood. However, don’t resort to a tanning bed. If you need some vitamin D in a cloudy environment, take a supplement or add more vitamin D-rich foods to your diet.
Talk to someone
If the winter is really getting you down and all else fails, take advantage of your school’s health and wellness services. There’s going to be someone there to talk to and they’ll help you get through the winter.
Written by Emily Mein. Emily attends St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y. Sharing information or a person’s story with people is why she loves writing. She can never get enough of Twitter, pasta and Syracuse basketball.