7 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
‘Tis the season for self-care my friends. With the semester winding down, and finals period gearing up, it’s a stressful time to be a student.
We’re seeing our last few days of consistent sunshine for the rest of the season, and that makes me SAD (pun intended). Seasonal affective disorder is no joke, kids, and I for one am not immune. Here are my tried (mostly) and true (usually) tips on surviving the late sunrises, early sunsets, and cloudy skies.
Light therapy is an absolute game changer. If you find yourself experiencing depressive symptoms during the darker months, I strongly recommend looking into light therapy.
HealthLink BC has some helpful information here. My mom sent me a light box last year, and when I use it consistently (read: properly) I notice a significant improvement in my energy levels and overall mood. I set aside 20 minutes in the morning to sit in front of the light, and I’ll do a reading for class or brush my teeth or just sit there and think about how much I love Ariana Grande’s thank u, next music video.
If you’re struggling, talk to someone. Seriously. I started speaking to a counsellor earlier this year (less frequently than once a month!) and she helps me unpack my feelings, find the source, and come up with strategies to feel better.
It’s also really nice to have someone to vent all your anxieties to who understands how you feel and why you feel that way. UVic has some great resources here.
Stay Active and Eat Well
While writing this one, I almost rolled my eyes at myself. It seems every self-help or advice article you ever read recommends healthy eating and exercise, as if that’s the answer to all of our problems. That being said, it really works. It won’t solve all your problems, but you’ll sleep better and have enough energy to actually deal with those problems.
Get Those Vitamins!
On the note of eating healthy, make sure you’re getting the right nutrients. Vitamin D deficiency is a big deal in a city with limited sun during the winter, especially for women, and is essential for bone, brain, immune system, and nervous system health.
If you don’t get a lot of animal protein (or any) like me, consider if you’re getting the right B vitamins like B6 and B12 to maintain your energy levels and prevent fatigue-inducing conditions like anemia. I can’t personally vouch for magnesium, but I’ve been told it’s useful for managing symptoms of anxiety. Talk to a healthcare professional about making sure you’re getting the necessary nutrients for a healthy and happy life.
Invest in a Hobby
Whether it’s reading, journaling, meditating, or exercising, investing in a hobby you can do indoors (or outdoors if you’re into that sort of thing) is a nice way to take a break from the drizzle outside and the constant screen time finals season brings.
Schedule Some Social Time
It’s a busy time of year, and it can feel impossible to find time to hang out with your friends, especially without feeling like you should be doing something else.
Schedule study sessions in the library with your pals or give yourself an hour of FaceTime with a friend for every few hours of productive studying.
Our mental health can feel like a delicate balancing act, so make sure you set aside a little bit of time for the people you care about (and who care about you!).
Declutter and Clean Your Space
I am a firm believer that a clear space equals a clear mind. How clean my bedroom is often directly reflects my frame of mind. Keep your bedroom tidy so you can have a restful space to, well, rest. Wherever your preferred work space in your home is, tidy it after every use. I feel more productive and much more in control of my life if the space around me is clean and tidy.
Finals and cloudy skies can be a perfect storm of stress and mental health challenges, so take care of yourselves in the ways that work best for you, and make sure to reach out if you need help.
What are your best methods of beating the winter blues?