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Opinion

Winter brings seasonal affective disorder, a preventable problem

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November 21, 2014

As you all are aware, there is snow on the ground; we can no longer ignore the fact that the summer months have passed us by.

A common problem that people across the world face is winter depression, also known as “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD). The lack of sunlight during the winter months can lower one’s spirits and make the long, cold days of winter seem even longer. Snow has barely been around for a week and already I have heard some people complain that they are sick of winter.

How can you beat these winter blues? The first thing you can do to avoid feeling low is to make sure you get some good old vitamin D from sunlight.

Yes, we don’t have a ton of hours of daylight and yes, it is cold outside, but your body needs a bit of sunlight in order to keep your spirits up. This can help lessen the release of melatonin, which makes a person tired.

While this can go with the first suggestion, make sure you do not stay inside too much. Winter creates homebodies of us all, but if you stay inside, you are surely going to get depressed. Whether you live in the dorms or off-campus, make sure you leave the house at least once every few days. Going a single day without leaving is fine but after a while, this can get old fast. If you don’t stay in one place for too long, you are less likely to experience the winter blues.

Another thing you probably hear of to help lift moods is exercising. We all know it is good for you. If high school health class didn’t install that knowledge within you, PE 108 must have. Exercise helps to raise serotonin levels, which makes you feel better. Plus, getting your blood pumping can help you feel warmer. Have you ever gotten really warm and then gone outside to roll in the snow? I don’t recommend this when you are sweating. Try a sauna sometime instead; it’s kind of interesting.

Like exercising, something you need to make sure to do to keep yourself going is eating well. While junk food is delicious, it doesn’t help your mood. I, for example, like to eat more in the winter. I call it gaining weight in order to hibernate and to just keep warm. Unfortunately, I am unsure of how true these statements are, so I would not recommend them as a lifestyle choice for anyone else.

Another thing you should do in order to keep your spirits up is to find something to look forward to. If you have something on the calendar that you can’t wait for, it can help you trudge through the snow with greater optimism. You can tell yourself that you only have ‘x’ number of days until the event. If nothing comes to mind right away, I would recommend Thanksgiving break. Not only is it relatively close so the countdown seems better, but it is several days off from school. You can use this time to simply relax, or, you can get ahead on all those final projects that will be stressing you out the final weeks of the semester. Winter can have a lot to offer. However, the cold, dark months of the season often seem to drag us down.

A few simple adjustments in your daily lifestyle can keep you going even when the snow reaches your knees. Plus, these tips aren’t just for the winter months: they are helpful all year long. So, start those New Year’s resolutions early and go think about the snow with a little less dread.

Rachel Molitor is a student at UW-River Falls.