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How to Beat S.A.D.

Up until February 2nd, I wasn’t entirely sure how much winter we were really going to have in South Bend this year. Super Bowl Sunday came and proved that Elsa hadn’t forgotten us this year, even if January was insanely dry. Now it’s almost March and it still feels like the middle of winter.

Given that winter appeared so late, personally I have no real faith that we will be escaping anytime soon (unless we’re lucky enough to be heading somewhere warm for spring break). It seems as if we’ve got at least a couple more weeks of snow and cold — even if, like me, you’re totally ready for spring and summer.

One of the hardest things about winter can be the lack of Vitamin C and sunshine that actually feels like its doing something. The Notre Dame permacloud and the cold makes us all a little grumpy and as winter drags on and on, it can actually get harder to feel happy consistently. With midterms facing us and winter showing no signs of letting up, this winter-long bad mood can be hard to deal with.

Whether you rarely feel the winter blues or feel the effects of seasonal affective disorder regularly, these tips may help you as we head through what is left of the winter season. Don’t give up now  — the end is near and these tips can make it easier to reach the finish line.

1. Don’t neglect your exercise routine!

Even though it often feels like the single most overused piece of health advice, exercise is actually key to keeping your mood up. Especially in the stressful week ahead, don’t neglect your body. When you’re feeling miserable, it can seem impossible to get out of bed and go for a run. Eating a chocolate bar or finishing a pint of Ben and Jerrys can seem much more appealing — try the run first. Even if it’s hard to start, you always feel better afterwards.

2. Soak up the sun as much as possible!

The sun may be rare in the winter here in South Bend but it does make an occasional appearance. Even though we are all aware that this does not necessarily translate to warmer temperatures, don’t let that keep you indoors. Make the effort to be outside whenever the sun is shining, no matter how cold. When the sun is rare, it is important to take advantage of the time it does choose to be in the sky. It’s a proven mood-booster.

3. Remember the winter positives!

It sounds trite, but the power of positive thinking can work wonders. Make an effort to remember the things that are fun about winter, whether its the constant excuse to drink hot chocolate, the fun to be had making snow angels or just the fact that no one can fault you for choosing to curl up in your bed and read on a Saturday night. Make a list of all the things you like about winter and pull it out whenever you need a pick-me-up. Positivity can make a huge difference.

4. Brighten up your dorm room!

Just a little bit of color can bring a bit of cheer to an otherwise dreary day. Buy some flowers from the Notre Dame flower shop, hang a bright poster or just make an effort to wear clothes outside of the typical grey/black color scheme of winter. It’s not a huge thing but just a little bit of color can make a huge difference in the overall feeling of a room.

5. Head to the UCC!

If all else fails, don’t forget about the awesome resources available to you as a Notre Dame Student. Whether you just need to schedule a short appointment in the Inner Resources room (which includes the proven light therapy prescribed for many SAD patients and now has appointments available online) or you need someone to talk to, the UCC has something to help you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to these people — it’s free and can make a huge difference in dealing with all the stress of college.

If you’re feeling crankier than usual or just less motivated to stop watching Netflix, the weather could be to blame. Even if you can’t make it warmer or make the snow go away, don’t be afraid to try some strategies to make the winter easier to deal with. SAD can be a huge issue for a lot of people but don’t let it beat you. Keep your head up and you’ll make it through — there are only a few weeks left.


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Sources: 1, 2

Image: 1 2 (provided by author), 3, 4, 5 6 (provided by author), 7

Caelin is a sophomore who is currently majoring in English with a supplementary major in Irish language and a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. She is originally from Missoula, Montana (and believes that Montana actually is one of the best places on earth—even if there's only a million [human] residents). She is a little bit in love with all things Irish (mostly those things from Ireland itself, though she's a pretty big fan of the Fighting Irish too). She loves baking, New Girl, Criminal Minds, and reading. You can find her on Twitter (@caelin_miltko) and Instagram (@cmiltko).
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