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SPU’s Declassified Winter Quarter Survival Guide

Winter quarter. The notoriously difficult 11 weeks for college students in Seattle and at SPU. 

“It's hard to stay motivated when it gets dark at 4 p.m. and there isn’t much to do outside. In addition, there’s not a lot going on in the winter months so there’s not much to look forward to,” said Jordan Davies, junior student at SPU. 

After five weeks off from classes, Olivia Jensen, junior at SPU, discloses the difficulties of returning back to classes.

“Coming back to school after winter break is really hard because you have to restart school after a long break and then the Seattle gloom and doom adds to typical stress, making it all the more difficult”. 

On top of the usual winter stress, the pandemic adds another strain for students to survive the Seattle gloom. Typical indoor winter activities are limited due to the pandemic and students are forced to find other ways to de-stress from classes. 

“The things we would normally do like, hangout with friends and go out to eat, are not an option anymore, so there’s very little escape from school stress,” said Davies. 

We’ve all heard it so many times before, “try these things to make it better,”. These are generic responses from experts, however I’ve added tried and true practices that may actually add some light into your dark winter quarter. 

Getting Outside

Like any other time of the year, going outside and getting some exercise is a game changer during winter quarter. However, Seattle weather may leave you feeling like you’d rather stay at home, dry. The rain may be a turn off, but it isn’t so bad afterall. Many Seattleites brave the rain, umbrella or not, so don’t let the downpour ruin your day! Although you may not be a Seattle native, try it out. The rain is often calming and refreshing.

If you really don’t want to get a little wet, keep an eye out for clear non-rainy days using your weather app. It’s as simple as taking a glance and seeing the 2 hour period where there’s no chance of rain. Getting out to walk around campus, your neighborhood, or down the street makes a huge difference. Numerous studies have found that even a small amount of time outside can improve mood, lower stress, and improve concentration. Between your zoom classes, try to get out for around 30 min and enjoy your time outside with no screens.   

Take Vitamin D

Throughout the extended dark winter in Seattle, many find themselves deficient in Vitamin D. Most Seattle natives lack this due to the absence of sun. Recent research has found that vitamin D can aid in immune function and improve depression symptoms. Instead of just using your SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamp, head to Trader Joes or your local grocery/natural store for supplements. 

Plan something fun

Whether it be a reward for yourself for finishing each week or a big activity (covid-safe) make sure you have something to look forward to. This event or activity can be a motivator to continue and finish each week strong. At the end of the week I love to reward myself with a dessert treat or a little online shopping here and there. Although they may not be the healthiest ways to cope with winter quarter, anything helps (yes - even awaiting a package in the mail). If you’re more of the grand scope kinda person, plan something for you and your friends to do at the end of the quarter. Even a stay-cation can be something to look forward to.

Self Care

However you may treat yourself, I suggest to be a little extra indulgent in your self care this quarter. Whether that means spending more time on your skincare, setting aside time for yourself, or just getting more sleep, making sure you have time to de-stress is extra-essential during Winter quarter.  You could set aside 30 minutes before bed to wind down and read that book you’ve been wanting to read. Maybe your definition of self care means binging your favorite TV show, so give yourself a short period of time to squeeze in an episode before homework piles up. Or maybe you’re just a person who loves to online shop for yourself (this may be me). Just make sure to do it in moderation and don’t let things get out of hand. 

Regardless of which suggestion you factor into your winter quarter schedule, each and any of these can make your quarter a little lighter.  Remember to grind hard, but give yourself breaks and don’t overexert yourself. And lastly don’t forget to say a parting goodbye to the sun each night…. I mean afternoon…. I mean 4 p.m.



Tori McArthur is a Journalism and Sociology major at Seattle Pacific University. She loves to travel and lives by Indy Blue's mantra of "creating the life you want." You can probably find her at a thrift store in Seattle with a coffee in hand.
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