HCAU Survival Guide: Seasonal Struggles and Sources of Strength

Dealing with Seasonal Depression and University Struggles

Scottish weather can be temperamental, meaning that it can sometimes get dark early and we can have some pretty rubbish weather. This can make anyone feel down, but this isn’t the only thing that has been affecting me recently. The fact that I’m in my final year of university; I see my classmates only once a week and the fact that I’m currently writing my dissertation has also contributed to my bad mood.

I know that it can sometimes be hard to stay positive and make the best out of your experience when life is getting you down, but in the end, it’s your choice to change the way you think and approach life.

In September, I had the opportunity to travel to Egypt. I loved it and I still miss my fellow companions. All of them were beautiful women who carried so much wisdom within them, that the age difference didn’t cause a barrier between us and we still managed to connect to each other (I was the youngest). After Egypt, I had to get back into the university life rhythm, but I have to say, that initially, I loved every minute of going to classes. I was always looking forward to Monday and would get quite excited, but then it started to get worse. I would go to bed quite late and wake up around 2 or 3 pm, getting myself stressed because I wasn’t able to do all the things I planned to do on that day. It’s May now, and things are getting better. I still have my ups and downs, but now I’m more self-aware, and I believe that I had to go through this period to come out stronger on the other side.

If you are also having a difficult time, I made this list of tips to help you get through it.

#1 Meditate

Now I know that meditation is not for everybody and that in recent years terms such as ‘mindfulness’ and ‘meditation’ have become a trend in the wellness area, but I urge you to give it a try.

I started meditating about two years ago, and I now do it daily. Meditation helps to clear the chatter in the mind and focus on the present. It is great for people suffering from anxiety and if you tend to worry or overanalyse things in your life, focusing on your breath through meditation will help you become much calmer and grounded.

#2 Eat well

Eating well during this period can boost your mood. I think a lot about fresh food, vegetables and ingredients that nourish your body. The Zero Waste Café run by Foodstory is a good starting point when it comes to delicious, healthy recipes for your body.

 

#3 Sleep well

Try to get a regular sleep pattern. Get up at the same time and go to bed at the same time. If you suffer from insomnia like I often do, try to read a good book and switch off electronic devices. However, you can still listen to nice, relaxing music before going to bed.

 

#4 Exercise well

This can be yoga, karate or just running around your street. But when you move your body, you will feel much better afterwards.

#5 Express yourself

Now, this is for the creative and emotional among you, art is not only therapeutic, but it adds beauty to our lives. Engage with all your senses when you create art. Do at least one hour of art each day; may it be painting, taking pictures, dancing, playing an instrument, designing your room, just put your work out there.

 

#6 Journaling

I wake up every day and start my day with meditation, then a bit of journaling. It’s a technique I’ve used from ‘The Artist’s Way’. Julia Cameron suggests that writing three pages in the morning will set the tone for the rest of your day and allow you to get connected to your creativity. So, take some time in the morning to write down the thoughts or worries going through your head because it will help you to gain some clarity on certain matters. Maybe you’ve been holding onto something for too long, or you were upset about what a person did to you last week; writing it all down feels like releasing everything you have been building up.

What I have given you here is what I would consider as “the basics”, But there is one other thing that will make a huge difference to your life and that is laughter. We tend to allow ourselves to get too serious with our thoughts, feelings and worries that it stops us from being able to smile about the small things in life. So for next week, I urge you to go out and try some of these things, try to find time to laugh, or maybe reconnect with an old friend, but importantly, focus on yourself.