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How to overcome seasonal depression 

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

Have you felt your mood shift during the winter season? You stopped enjoying your favorite tv show, your music taste has become boring, and the things that used to make you happy don’t anymore. The night feels like it takes over the entire day, which makes you feel tired and groggy. Perhaps finishing homework and meeting up with friends doesn’t come easy anymore. 

Seasonal depression or SAD, can hit us like waves in a tsunami. The sudden change in temperatures, the short days and lack of vitamin d can cause fatigue and social withdrawal. Raymond W Lam M.D. from the Division of Mood Disorders, Department of Psychiatry states, “winter seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is classified as a seasonal pattern of recurrent major depressive episodes in winter with full remission of symptoms in summer. ”

Here are some ways to overcome the seasonal blues. 

The first step to take is to wake up early. Now that the days are shorter and we can no longer appreciate the sun in all its glory, waking up early can boost our energy levels, as we are exposed to sun earlier in the day. This can include going on a morning walk with your dog or an early morning jog to get your day started. All of these can maximize being out in the sun and lower the chances of being tired.

Another step to help alleviate seasonal depression is to make plans during the day with friends and family. Keeping yourself occupied during the day can help you rest better at night and feel more accomplished. Usually, a lack of things to do can make you feel tired and unproductive. 

Try hitting the gym as well in the morning or before sunset. Exercise can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety through the release of feel-good hormones like endorphins. It can also help you take your mind off any unresolved problems you may be worried about and give you a new challenge. Staying active can also increase your confidence and once you start seeing progress at the gym, it can motivate you to wake up earlier to continue going. Exercise is also a great way to release any negative feelings that can arise with seasonal depression like feelings of low-self worth and low-self esteem. Using the gym to release any pent up anger or sadness is a better coping mechanism than drugs or alcohol. 

Last but the most important, talking to a mental health provider can help. If you feel really stuck during the holidays and short winter months to the point where you lack any motivation to complete a task, speak to a psychologist about it. They are there to help guide you in the right direction and talk you through what may be making you feel this way. Deeper-rooted issues can be spotted and treated. 

Although holidays can be tough and the short winter days can bring a lack of energy, treat yourself with kindness. Take care of yourself and remember to set realistic goals, even if it’s just getting one task done that can advance you, like submitting a homework assignment or doing laundry. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Be understanding and take care of yourself like you would take care of your best friend that may be going through a depressive moment in their life. What advice would you give them? Likewise, talk to yourself kindly and give yourself a reward for waking up in the morning and being present with yourself. Seasonal depression may affect how you feel but not dictate your life. 

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Ashley Carranza

UC Riverside '24

Hello! My name is Ashley Carranza. I am a 5th Year Creative Writing major at UCR. I transferred from Compton College where I received two Associate Degrees in Biological and Physical Sciences, and Physics. I originally dreamed of becoming a dermatologist or psychiatrist my first year at UCR in 2021, but fell in love with writing in my first creative writing class. I was a Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology student , but after my second year at UCR, I changed my major to Creative Writing in pursuit of a writing career and education. I love to talk about books and discuss different styles of writing. I plan on applying to graduate school to receive an MFA in Creative Writing at UCR. I would love to teach others about writing and the amazing world of fiction we can create once we dive into a book. I love to read cozy mystery books, thrillers, and romance novels. I enjoy writing at coffee shops while sipping seven dollar coffee. I hope to one day write my own thriller and romance books. I love to hike and go to the gym. Topics I love to read and write about are dating, relationships, school, health, and education.