Staying Bright During Dark Days
Winter is here, and that means a shift in the atmosphere that surrounds campus. We have entered a time of year where the air is painfully cold, the days until our next break seem countless, and the sky seems to constantly be the same gray and white color as the snow which lies beneath it.
During this time, the term “seasonal depression” seems to get thrown around quite a bit, and justly so, because the sudden disappearance of sociability, lack of energy and overall feelings of melancholy affect many people. However, before I continue, I would like to clarify that these symptoms are not symptoms of “depression”; rather, they are indicators of a common affliction known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-V, classifies “Seasonal Affective Disorder” as a “recurrent form of mood disorder,” generally associated with the changing of the seasons and affecting an estimated “14.3 percent of the U.S. Population.” In spite of this occurrence, there are concrete ways to alleviate the stresses that have become a part of your life, so read carefully.
First of all, S.A.D. can be brought on by a lack of exposure to sunlight, so make sure to get out as often as possible. As tempting as it may be to lie in your dorm with all the lights off and sleep through the day, don’t. Do the best you can to go to class, get some brisk fresh air and interact with others. This will help to stimulate and exercise your brain, releasing powerful chemicals such as serotonin that help to counteract S.A.D’s symptoms.
Second, in addition to mental exercise, try to get some physical exercise. Whether you decide to go to the Lamson Health Club or Meier Health Club, or are bold enough to exercise outdoors, getting your body active releases endorphins in your brain, which are another form of strong counteractants to S.A.D’s symptoms. So do your best to go on a short walk or a light workout. It will benefit you drastically. Plus, you get to work on your summer body during the winter months!
Finally, spend time with those who care about you. Their reassurance and dependability can remind you that you are not going through this struggle alone. They can also provide much needed shoulders to lean on during your times of hardship, so seek out these meaningful relationships.
However, in the midst of all these remedial suggestions, it is important to remember that Seasonal Affective Disorder is, in fact, a disorder. As such, it should not be taken lightly. So if you know a friend who is suffering, please do not hesitate to take action. Seek help, whether it be in someone you trust, or at the Counseling and Testing Center, located in Bell Hall, Suite 123. Sometimes, tackling the issue head-on is a strong start on the road to recovery. So, keep your head up during these cold, dark winter months. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel.