SURVIVOR SERIES: SURVIVING THE FINAL STRETCH OF THE WINTER BLUES
As the final months of winter are dwindling down, we may be wishing for warmer weather more than ever before. Not seeing the sun for days or even weeks can really put a damper on your mind set.
Why do some people feel down in the winter time?
I learned last semester in my animal physiology class that your body runs on what’s called a circadian clock. Basically meaning that we have internal clocks which follow a 24 hour rhythm and regulate hormones. After some research I found that this is the link to the “winter blues,” scientifically named as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This internal clock I talked about is controlled by environmental factors, namely, the sun. Without getting too in depth, during the winter we experience less sunlight which in turn messes with our clock and changes hormone levels in the body. These altered levels can lead to things like mild depression and anxiety. The main effect is on levels of melatonin which causes sleep disturbances. And we all know that sleep issues can lead to other problems! Even if we do not feel the full extend of this winter’s blues, a lot of us still notice a difference in our moods during the winter months.
How can I combat this?
- On those rare bright days, go outside! Even if it’s cold, a nice walk could really boost your mood with the right mindset. If you can’t get past the cold, sit by a window. Instead of secluding yourself in the dark corners of the library maybe find a new spot which allows a lot of natural light in!
- Stay active. Science has supported many ways in which physical activity can benefit someone’s mental health. It may be even more important in the winter time to keep up your fitness.
- Nourish your body. These changes in hormones may actually cause you to crave more food. Think about it, these same effects happen to other winter-bearing animals such as squirrels and bears, and what do they do? Fatten up for winter! You may find yourself craving those not-so-healthy snacks more often during this time. Just make sure to incorporate lots of whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts) to keep your mind and body satiated.
Where can I turn if these feelings are serious/concerning?
SUNY Oswego has great resources when it comes to mental health. The counseling center within Mary Walker offers free counseling services to any students. Find out more about what they have to offer here: https://www.oswego.edu/counseling-services/about-our-services
P2P is a student run counseling service here on campus. Students work as peer educators to host programs throughout campus to educate students on a wide range of mental health issues. Look out for any programs they may be hosting!
Just remember that this cold blues is only temporary and you have the ability to make the best of it!
Written and researched by Peer Educator, Amanda George