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Mental Health

How to Cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this Winter

Ah, ‘tis (almost) the season to be jolly. It’s mid-November and the frosty winter is creeping in. Winter comes with some perks of its own like warming up with sizzling hot chocolate and making snow angels with your friends. However, it’s common for people to feel a little down during the winter months. Sometimes people may even be dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – a type of depression that is typical during drastic seasonal changes. Often, people may feel pressured to feel joyful or happy in this festive season, but it is important to be informed about what SAD is and know a few ways to cope with it if necessary. A few symptoms of SAD are gaining weight, loss of energy, fatigue during the day, loss of interest in daily activities, and oversleeping. Here are a few ways to cope with SAD, if you feel yourself being caught with the ‘winter blues’:

Find some light

Our body clock uses cues from sunlight to find its rhythm. Since we are exposed to less sunlight during the winter months, our body may feel a bit out of sync. When our bodies feel out of sync, we may naturally feel a bit lost and confused. To combat the dark, gloomy days of winter, try to be exposed to sunlight for at least half an hour every day. If you can, it’d be great to be exposed to sunlight even longer. However, if you’re from a place that gets too dark too quickly, then consider investing in a light box. A light box mimics natural outdoor light and helps people cope with SAD through “light therapy”. Before getting a light box, make sure you consult a doctor and make an informed choice.

Stay active

Another way to pump yourself up is to incorporate more physical activity into your lifestyle. In general, exercise has been proven to reduce symptoms of depression and it is incredible how a little physical activity can go a long way in helping people feel relief. Join a gym or a group yoga class and try to make exercise a part of your daily routine. Group exercise classes may even encourage you to stay committed and find other people who want to work out together.

Talk about it

Most of us have trouble expressing ourselves and making ourselves vulnerable to our emotions. However, talking to a loved one is key to coping with difficult feelings. Reach out to family, friends, or a professional and talk about how you’re feeling. Sometimes talking about challenging emotions can reduce feelings of frustration and confusion. If you feel like you’re not ready yet to discuss it with another person, try writing down what you’re feeling so you can reflect and gain a fresh perspective on things.

Focus on the good things

It can get repetitive to hear the phrase “focus on the positives” every time you’re upset, but the phrase is repeated for a reason. During times of sadness, it can be hard to remember the positives but it’s important to make a reasonable effort to remind yourself of the good parts of your life, so you don’t only get caught up in the negative parts. Finally, focusing on good things also means treating yourself right. For instance, get an extra chocolate-chip cookie, get a massage, or even go dancing if you’ve been meaning to for a while.

Just remember that one of the best things about your life is yourself.   

Srisuma Movva

Amherst '22

Srisuma Movva is the Secretary of HerCampus UMass Chapter. She is a sophomore, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Psychology. She enjoys coding & writing, watching old movies, eating dark chocolate, and wearing graphic tees.
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