By Cassie Stolz
Living in the eastern half of the country means being able to enjoy all four seasons. Each season brings with it, cherished activities along with inconveniences. Currently being in the middle of a bitter cold winter means that seasonal mood disorder (SAD) is in full swing, especially for those in the tri state area. SAD has an unknown cause, but some researched theories suggest it’s a result of the seasonal changes disrupting people’s circadian rhythms. The 24-hour clock that regulates how we function during sleeping and waking hours, causing us to feel energized and alert sometimes and lethargic at others. Contrary to popular belief, it is proven that women and young people are more likely to experience SAD, as are those who live farther away from the equator. People with a family history or diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder may be particularly susceptible. About 4 to 6 percent of U.S. residents suffer from SAD, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, and as many as 20 percent may have a mild form of it that starts when days get shorter and colder. As students in Western Pennsylvania, many of us have experienced varying degrees of these winter blues. On the bright side, spring is waiting around the corner with plenty of sunshine. To make the long wait for spring endurable, some helpful tips to alleviate the mind have been compiled below.
- Stick to a schedule- if our circadian rhythms are being affected, it’s very important to adopt a routine maintaining regular sleep patterns, eating times, work productivity times, and study times.
- 10-minute daily nature sessions- Multitask when walking across campus by being present and mindful with nature. Notice how the brisk air makes you feel when you breath. And the way the trees appear bearing inches of snow on them as you walk to class. Giving gratitude to the snow will help keep our minds in a lighter place.
- Aromatherapy- grab a diffuser for your room to benefit from a clean, fresh scent along with boosting emotional wellbeing. Uplifting scents include basil, sandalwood, spruce, clary sage, orange, and ylang ylang.
- Exercise- weather you enjoy lifting weights or prefer cardio, get your heart rate up and releasing endorphins helps kick the sadness. Walk on the treadmills that are next to the window in Thiel’s gym to be closer to natural light simultaneously.
- Do yoga- if the gym doesn’t feel right, or you’re in quarantine, YouTube a yoga class and flow in the comfort of your room.
- Listen to your favorite playlist- putting ear buds in and jamming out to your favorite mood-boosting playlist can help shift a perspective from gloom to positive.
- Read a book- When in doubt grab a great novel with some tea or coffee. Immersing yourself in a page-turner can be a winter day well-spent indoors.
As always treat your mental health with the utmost seriousness and care. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression, seasonal or not there are many resources on and off campus. We hope these tips find anyone who may not be feeling quite themselves this winter and help with what any life struggles.