How to Avoid the Winter Blues this Season

It’s nearly that time of year again. The time when people herd over to Starbucks for their annual Peppermint Mochas, when people pull out their thick sweaters and brave the snow, when people embrace cuffing season, and when people go into a mini hibernation to avoid being cold for prolonged periods of time. However this inclination to stay inside 24/7 for the sake of staying warm is not always the best move–it’s actually the worst. Sure staying inside to drink hot cocoa, Netflix, and do homework is ideal during the chilly winter months, but if you don’t get outside every now and then, your days will eventually feel…long. Before you know it, you haven’t seen a speck of sun in weeks. You might miss your alarms, not want to be as social, find your energy depleted, take little to no interest in the activities that were once a source of happiness, find yourself hungrier than normal, or have a hard time focusing on your schoolwork. If this sounds like something you have experienced, then you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short. According to the American Psychiatric Association, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that tends to be most impactful in the months of January and February in locations where there is a limited amount of sun exposure. Thankfully individuals can typically resolve their SAD symptoms with the transition into spring! Until then, here’s 4 tips on how to manage the cold months ahead.  

1. GET. A. SUN. LIGHT. 

I cannot stress this one enough!! Before coming to UW from Southern California I never even knew that such a device existed. Today, I couldn’t imagine what my winter would have been like if I didn’t have one on my desk side. I recommend you do something else aside from stare at the light, try doing your homework, watching Netflix, or eating dinner with the light above you so it really feels like the sun is shinning down on you. And if you want to get reallyyy into it you can even turn on some reggae music and throw some sunglasses on! 

2. Hang out with friends

Nothing lifts one’s spirits more than good ol’ quality time with the squad. Go out to a movie, try indoor ice-skating, make a trip to a new restaurant you guys have been dying to try, or do something with nature! While I have never been brave enough to try a snow hike, I’ve heard the views are absolutely BREATHTAKING and I feel like it’d be something definitely worth trying. If not this year, I’ll try my best to go before I leave UW and I think you should too!

3. Exercise

Even if you haven’t been super committed to working out this year or ever–don’t worry girl, you’re not alone–winter quarter is the perfect time to start! With the New Year approaching there’s really not a better time to get that hot girl summer bod the majority of us hope to achieve with a new year. If you’re still on the fence about going to the gym on your own, you can always start out with group exercise classes, go with friends, or hire a personal trainer. Remember, now is your time! 

4. Always have something to look forward to

Although last, this one is KEY! Whether it is something as small as treating yourself to an extra 20 minutes of sleep or grabbing a coffee on your way to class or slurping on that fuzzy sweater you’ve been eyeing for weeks, it’s important to designate treat yo’ self moments throughout the wintery weeks. What this looks like will vary for everyone but as long as whatever it is that you’re planning is something that can sustain your motivation, then you’re heading down a bright path!