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How to Stay Happy in the Coming Winter Months: Knowledge and Prevention of SAD

Your parents have flown back home from parent’s weekend, school work is bearing down on you, and you might even have a little bit of a cold. On top of everything, the weather is creeping into the 30s slowly but surely. Just what a stressed out college student like yourself needs.

This time of the year many people, especially college students, show signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression. These can include feeling sluggish or agitated, having difficulty concentrating, oversleeping, appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates, weight gain, tiredness (Seasonal Affective Disorder). These signs can be easily confused with the typical college stress, but when it becomes a normal part of your life, you might want to take a step back and reevaluate.

So how does one deal with all of this while being away from home (sometimes for the first time)? Experts from the Mayo Clinic recommend a couple of suggestions including regular exercise and making your home feel brighter with the winter season fast approaching. Through understanding SAD and your symptoms, you can figure out a plan to help you specifically.

Some things that I find helpful during this season are:

1. Reaching out to your family and relatives more often. Especially during the holiday season, it can be hard to be away from home, so calling or texting your family members can make you feel more connected with them and what is going on at home. It can also help you talk through your stress with the people who know you best!

2. Buy a sun lamp! These are great for those students who are used to warmer weather during the winter because Michigan weather tends to be rough (even for Michiganders). These can help with the physical aspect of shorter days and less exposure to sunlight that is one of the main causes of SAD. Verilux is a great company that the University of Michigan suggests to get a sun lamp from, but other lamps can be found in numerous places like Amazon and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

3. Visiting the University health/wellness center. The University of Michigan Wellness center has sun boxes that are designed specifically for those who deal with SAD while at school. Unfortunately, the Wellness Center is closed until Winter 2020, but their website still has important information about the services they provide. Use these links for more information! https://caps.umich.edu/article/wellness-zone-returning-winter-2020 https://www.uhs.umich.edu/sad

4. Taking 5 minutes before bed to think about some things that you are grateful for in your life. This may not help with the physical aspect of SAD, but it can help to put you in a good mindset before sleeping and has helped me to de-stress. Just taking a few minutes a day, especially when you are stressed out can improve your mood drastically and may help with symptoms of SAD, including feeling overwhelmed and unhappy.

5. Trying to increase human interaction throughout the day. This may seem weird, but even small talking with more people throughout the day can make you feel less lonely and more engaged with your surroundings. This is something I really try to do when I start to feel down during the fall and winter season because it helps me to reconnect with my friends. I think that by just hanging out with people instead of being alone during the day, my personal symptoms of SAD decrease dramatically. Laughing, smiling, and talking with those you love can make a BIG impact on one’s mood.

“Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Oct. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/sympt….

A sophomore at the University of Michigan studying Communications and Digital Studies.
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