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Surviving The Season: How I Combatted Seasonal Depression at UMass

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

One of the lovely aspects of living in the Northeast is when the sky goes grey and the ground turns to frozen mud for four months. UMass Amherst is no exception to this truth of the territory. 

Ever since I can remember, I have dreaded the winter. Having lived in Massachusetts my whole life, I have learned to keep my head down and just power through until spring. This year I decided that I was going to do my best to embrace this time, spending almost half of the year hating your day-to-day existence is not how I want to live. The things I have implemented have not magically made me love the winter, but they do bring me small joys that allow me to see the beauty of the now. 

Intentional walks to class were an accidental discovery. I am what my family refers to as a “fair-weather girl.” My dog and I have gained this title from our shared distaste for temperatures falling below 60 degrees. That being said, you can imagine my struggle getting myself out of my dorm when the temperatures drop. In the fall, I would walk through the wind tunnel that is the UMass campus and notice the sun on my face. I would feel the warmth and take a breath, making sure to be present at that moment until a gust of wind snapped me out of my dreamy daze. It was not until I was home for Thanksgiving that I noticed a big difference in the way I felt. My mental state had plummeted in the span of a few days. I found myself missing my windy walks and yearning to get outside. When I arrived back on campus, I made sure to look for those little moments on my strolls to class, making sure to notice any sensations I felt, good or bad. This provided me with a sense of groundedness and clarity I had previously missed during the cold months. We have to walk to class anyway, make it intentional, and make your commute serve you. 

One day after a particularly stressful lecture, I was looking for a place to decompress. I had heard about the Durfee Conservatory from friends and seen endless Instagram stories of people frolicking through all sorts of leafy greens. I ducked in on my way to the library to check it out. The second I opened the door, I was hit with a wave of warm air. It smelled like earthy damp soil and fresh water. It was like I was floating as I wandered through the different parts of the greenhouse. If you closed your eyes, it was like June. This was the spiritual shot of espresso I needed to get through that day. Sometimes, the simple reminder that the sun will return is reassuring enough to turn your day around. The Durfee Conservatory is a great reason to get out of your room and check a destination off your campus bucket list. Bonus points if you can bring your headphones and listen to your go-to summer songs!

Durfee Conservatory
Original photo by Anumeha Rajvanshi

A fun fact about me is that I love a little treat. Grabbing myself a beverage is often the highlight of my day. It gives me something that I know I can look forward to no matter what the universe has in store for me. My favorite spots to grab a drink on campus are Starbucks, People’s Organic, and Peet’s Coffee. There are multiple locations across campus and you can find something different at each, or stick to your go-to. However lovely these places are, by the end of the semester when I need my coffee fix the most, the dining dollars are dwindling. A friend of mine shared this idea with me and I have not been the same since: at the dining hall, grab a to-go cup, and head over to the soft serve station. Line your cup with some caramel or chocolate sauce. Grab your coffee and milk of choice and voila, a beverage on a budget. It makes the world of a difference by giving yourself this little reward. You deserve it.

Now, you have some simple but oh-so-effective tools for dealing with that seasonal slump that many of us deal with yearly. Of course, this is not to say these methods are the cure for Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you are struggling, reach out to those you love or make use of campus resources. Your feelings are so valid and many of the people around you have experienced these struggles as well. Take care of yourself and find your small joys wherever you can. Give yourself the grace and gentleness you would give others. You are doing great. Hang in there, my fellow fair-weather friends. Sunnier days are ahead!

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Gianna Maddalena

U Mass Amherst '26

Gianna is a freshman Communication major at Umass Amherst! She has always loved writing, especially poetry. This is her first semester writing for Her Campus. In her free time she enjoys exercising, reading, and scouting new coffee shops. Gianna is passionate about finding community through writing.