Winter can be tough for students, but there are ways to make it easier
By Tyng Kam, Stride Career Prep Success Coach
“The winter is coming,” is a common joke I have with my family and friends, as we get ready for the fall and winter months in the Midwest. While I am not going through hard winters like the Starks in “Game of Thrones,” the winter blues are for real. It has a medically recognized name: seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD strikes around the same time every year. Most people with SAD start experiencing it in the fall, and this continues into the winter months. Symptoms of SAD include feeling sad, having low energy, having problems sleeping, experiencing changes in appetite or weight, feeling sluggish, having difficulty concentrating, and sometimes feeling hopeless. Don’t feel like you must deal with these funky moods on your own. Consider contacting your family doctor, or another appropriate healthcare professional, if you are experiencing these symptoms on a regular basis.
You may not experience SAD but can still be affected by the gloomy fall and winter months. Luckily for us, there are a few things we can do to overcome our situation in the months ahead.
Light Therapy for SAD
The lack of sunlight in the fall and winter can cause a drop in the body’s level of serotonin, “the happy chemical.” These changes can make some people feel a lack of energy and depression. Naturally, light therapy can be an effective treatment for SAD. You can do your best to add lights into your living space, take long walks when it’s sunny outside, or create greater artificial lighting. Light therapy lamps are terrific options, and using them is especially effective in the morning.
Exercise for SAD
Your body releases endorphins when you exercise. This chemical triggers positive feeling in your body and can help to boost your mood. Aerobic, or cardio, exercise helps to bring more oxygen to your body and stimulates relaxation. There are many aerobic exercises you can do indoors, but you can double the effectiveness to counter SAD if you exercise outdoors during daylight. Some examples of aerobic exercises include:
- Using a treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bikes
- Jumping rope
- High Intensive Interval Training (HIIT)
Vitamin D for SAD
Vitamin D is the nutrient your body produces when it is exposed to sunlight. You can increase your consumption of foods that are high in vitamin D, like fatty fish and egg yolk. Or, consider taking vitamin D supplements, to make sure you get enough for it to be effective.
Get enough sleep and rest well to prevent SAD
Making sure that you sleep well is important. Quality sleep helps you to stay healthy and positive throughout the colder seasons of the year. Per the Mayo Clinic, the change in seasons can disrupt the melatonin levels in your body and affect your sleep patterns. Melatonin is a hormone in your body that plays a role in sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, consult your doctor about the possibility of taking melatonin supplements.
Playing upbeat music can help with SAD
Music has proven to be an effective tool to change our mood. Try playing upbeat and motivational music on a regular basis. I found orchestra music stimulating, and it often brings a lot of positive emotions to me.
Make plans with friends, family, and pets
Friends, family, and pets are our best resources to stay out of the winter blues. Get involved and make holiday plans with family members, like attending winter festivals and planning a holiday meal. Fall and winter are the best times to organize game nights with friends. Invite friends over for board games and video games. Interaction with others, in small or large groups, can help to distract our minds from the negative emotions… and stimulate some positive energy. Take your pets out for walks and snuggle with them, if you have pets at home.
If you are experiencing serous symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, you may require medical and counseling treatment. Contacting your doctor for advice is a smart decision.
Be sure to check out the article, Online School Improved My Physical And Mental Health, for an engaging perspective from a Stride Student Advisor.
And, to learn more about Stride Career Prep Success Coaching for teens and what it offers, be sure to visit this site: https://www.stridelearning.com/career-prep/career-exploration/student-success-coaching.html