Even though the switch to Daylight Savings was only a few weeks ago, the shorter days and longer nights may already be affecting your mood. It can be hard to feel motivated when it seems like it’s “nighttime” around 5pm and it only gets worse when combined with the colder weather. However, this is typically the busiest point in the semester, with classes starting to come to a close and Winter Break quickly approaching. It can be difficult to keep up with all of your work if you’re feeling tired and unmotivated because of the weather. Plus, this weather can adversely affect your mental health, making you feel sluggish or sad. If you’re struggling with the winter blues, here are some tips to make it a bit easier. The winter blues are the feelings of tiredness, sadness, and sluggishness that some people experience during the winter months.
1. Avoid Oversleeping
It may be tempting to sleep in or nap on the weekends, especially after a particularly grueling week, but oversleeping can contribute to the winter blues. If you’re waking up any later that noon, you likely will only experience five or less hours of daylight. That lack of daylight is often what causes the winter blues. By going to bed and waking up at a reasonable hour, and by avoiding naps unless you absolutely need one, you’ll be awake for more of the daylight hours.
2. Go Outside During the Day
As difficult as it can be, going outside even when it’s cold and getting a little sun can energize you up a bit. Especially onn sunny days, try to take a walk around campus, even when you’d rather stay huddled up under a blanket. After a short walk, you’ll likely feel more energized than if you decided to stay inside all day.
3. Find an Indoor Hobby/Activity
It’s easy to feel sad or low during the winter months. And even though it’s important to go outside for some fresh air and sun, there will be times that you’ll need or want to stay inside. Having a little hobby or indoor activity to do, especially after nightfall, can help boost your mood. Things like arts and crafts may keep you distracted from negative thoughts you might have, and you’ll feel accomplished once you’ve finished something. Since it’s getting dark so early now, it’s common for us to “shut down” once the sun goes down, so having something purely fun to do can keep your mind active in a pleasant way.
4. Keep Your Room Brightly Lit
Unless you’re planning on just relaxing, it’s a good idea to keep your room brightly lit once the sun goes down. If you have the lights off and it’s dark outside, you’ll likely start feeling sleepy or grumpy after a while. Keeping the lights on can remind your body that it’s still “daytime” even after the sun goes down. Having a light or multiple lights on can help boost your late afternoon and early evening productivity.
5. Consider Investing in a Sunlamp or Bulbs
If you find that you’re really struggling with the winter blues, you might find a sunlamp helpful. Essentially, a sunlamp mimics sunlight, and you’re supposed to sit in front of the lamp for a certain amount of time each day. Some people claim that these lamps help boost their mood during the winter months, and are often used to help treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but anyone can use them. The only downside to sunlamps is that they can sometimes be pricey, ranging anywhere from $30-$100+ depending on the size and brand of the lamp.
6. Contact Counseling Services
If you find that your winter blues are seriously affecting your daily life, it might be a good idea to contact Counseling Services and talk to a professional. Talking to a professional can help you find the best coping mechanisms and determine whether you need treatment. If this is something you’ve been worried about, seeing a trained professional can help you and determine whether your symptoms could be related to depression or SAD. However, even if your symptoms aren’t caused by a mental illness, you can still talk to someone because anyone can benefit from talking to a therapist.
While winter is associated with many fun things like the holidays and togetherness, it’s also very common for this to be a difficult time of year for many people. Never be ashamed of how you feel during the winter months; you are not alone. Hopefully these tips will help make your winter a little less blue.
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