Learn some tips to nurture your mental health during the cold, winter months.
By: Chase Congleton
Seasonal affective disorder, often abbreviated as SAD, occurs during the wintertime due to the shortened amount of daylight during the season. The National Institute of Mental Health states that because of the lack of natural light, SAD becomes increasingly common. Symptoms include fatigue, change in appetite or weight, depression and social withdrawal. However, not only is SAD temporary, but it is easy to manage throughout the winter months! Here are a few tips and methods to help fight off seasonal depression and keep feeling like yourself.
Use light therapy. According to the Mayo Clinic staff, daily use of bright artificial light is effective in lowering the symptoms of SAD. This method helps even out the circadian rhythm that become off-balance during the winter months. Before using an artificial light source, be sure to contact a doctor or physician to see if it's right for you.
Use natural light. Because of shortened light hours, the best possible time to get an adequate amount of natural light would be during the morning hours. Going on a morning walk or taking a stroll around the neighborhood are good ways to get vitamin D naturally through real sunlight.
Get a vitamin D supplement. If you are unable to get an artificial light or get natural light from where you are at, then a vitamin D supplement would be the next best option.
Talk to a friend. The topic of conversation does not have to revolve around your feelings of depression. Simply talking to a friend over the phone or going out with them can help eliminate the feeling of social isolation during winter break.
Exercise. A consistent exercise schedule will not only make you feel better mentally, but you will feel better physically as well. Start with a simple exercise regime and work your way up from there.
Eat healthier. Forgoing junk food and choosing healthier options, such as water instead of soda, will help improve how you feel throughout the day.
Write your thoughts down. A healthy way to vent without talking to an individual is writing your thoughts down in a journal. However, this step is open to your interpretation. Do you want to write down details about your week or do you want to draw a picture of an animal? Whatever you end up doing, you are creating art through words or illustrations.
Seek professional help. According to an article from iFred.org discussing the different types of depression, if you feel depressed for longer than two weeks, it is recommended to seek professional help through therapy or a psychiatrist. Your life matters despite what your depression tells you.
On today’s college campuses, mental illness is a less taboo topic thanks to the transparency of our generation. While still difficult to discuss in-depth for some, mental health has become increasingly visible as the stigma around it is slowly removed. Mental health exists. It is OK not to feel OK. As in-depth research over mental illnesses increases and conversations become more constructive, people benefit. Not every day will be your best day, but it is imperative that you try to live each one of your days to the fullest.
Photographers: Amy Smith and Darcey Drullinger