Winter is here, and snow is piling up. The days are shorter and the clouds obscure the sun. Many people around the country, including those right here on campus, are right now likely suffering from S.A.D.
What is S.A.D.?
S.A.D. stands for seasonal affective disorder, a mood disorder that is caused by the lack of natural sunlight during the winter months. It’s also commonly known as seasonal depression. I have experienced this for many years before, but a combination of other factors has worsened it for me and other students. Since this is my first time away from home during the winter, and because new stressors have emerged from the new semester of classes, seasonal depression is hitting harder than ever before. The main thing to remember is that you’re not alone in this experience and that there are resources on campus to help mitigate the struggles that many students are facing.
However, there are some ways to combat S.A.D. on your own, and while it’s no cure, it can help to lessen the effects. Here are my tricks for dealing with S.A.D.
1. Light Therapy
Light therapy is especially useful in the winter months because it can replicate the natural light from the sun, even on cloudy wintry days. I have my own lightbox that I used at home, but luckily, the campus supplies some for students! You can easily rent out a light box if you’re feeling down and need a little boost during these months.
The best time to use the light is in the early morning hours, or when you’re getting ready for the day. It can provide a mood boost and also help regulate your body and sleep schedule by mimicking daylight (much like the morning sun).
Here is a link for more information from UI on light therapy
2. Exercise & Water
Basic self-care like moving your body and staying hydrated is so important when you feel down. I definitely understand the struggle to get motivated, especially when the walk to the Rec Center is so cold. But I always feel so much better after exercising and I feel like I have enough to take on the day. Working out at any time of the day, not just in the morning, can still bring a much-needed boost to your mood. And, of course, drinking water is vital to make sure you don’t get dehydrated and become fatigued.
3. Doing Activities You Enjoy
While depression can sometimes take the fun out of your hobbies, you have to keep trying to fight off the negativity! Doing something relaxing or nostalgic or fun can bring back many happy emotions. Here are some things I’ve done recently:
- Looking at cat pictures
- Collecting and listening to my records
4. Friends & Family
If you can, try to get together with friends! Doing something productive like studying with other people can get you out of a slump, or just simply hanging out and having fun can boost your mood. Another good thing to do is call your family or friends back home to check-in.
5. Seeing the UI Counselors
Making an appointment with the UI Counseling Service is super easy. You can make a one-time appointment or recurring appointments, and it can be about anything. If your seasonal depression is getting really severe, talking to a counselor and finding new solutions can totally help.
Remember, you are not alone! Seasonal Affective Disorder affects so many people, and there’s no shame in getting the help you need to combat it.