By Sam Taylor, 3rd year Con Ed English Major
It’s week five and reading week is just around the corner. We are almost half way through second semester. That means halfway to the freedom of summertime and halfway to the warm and bright summer weather. Reading week is a great time to help us rejuvenate ourselves to take on the last few weeks of the school year! But… you may be feeling lazy, sluggish, and unmotivated. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a prevalent condition in which weather negatively affects people’s moods (Ontario CMHA). CMHA states that potential symptoms for SAD during the winter weather are change in appetite, weight gain, decreased energy, fatigue, tendency to oversleep, feelings of anxiety and despair, etc. (Ontario CMHA). Unfortunately, it tends to appear in people over the age of 20, which is a lot of university students (Ontario CMHA).
Luckily, there are many ways to beat the winter blues! The first suggestion is to make your environment brighter. Our bodies are often craving more daylight because we are not getting enough in the winter. Try sitting closer to your window with your blinds or curtains open while you are doing homework. As well, you could join a friend for a winter walk. This is a great way to take a study break, catch up with a friend, and get more vitamin D!
Another tip is to eat smarter. We all have cravings, which is completely normal. Eating candy and carbohydrates can temporarily give you the fix you crave but it is said that these foods can increase feelings of anxiety and depression (Real Simple). Some of the best “winter time power foods” to eat are Brussel sprouts, pomegranates, cinnamon, citrus, beef, kiwi, cabbage, and sweet potato (Diabetic Living).
Another great way to both relieve the winter blues and stress is to exercise. There are many different types of exercise that you can do depending on what you enjoy. Yoga is a great way to help reduce anxiety, increase oxygen flow, and improve your overall mood (Real Simple). Pilates is an exercise to strengthen your core, which has been said to lead to better sleeping patterns (Real Simple). A good sleeping pattern is often difficult to achieve as a university student. As well as, studies show that lifting weights is good for toning your muscles and for your mental muscles. It is said that weight training can increase your ability to focus on planning, regulating behaviour, and multitasking. All of these are things that are required of us as university students. Utilizing exercise to help both your physical and mental health are ways to overcome symptoms of SAD.
Other ways to improve your symptoms of the winter blues are to turn on some upbeat music, plan a vacation (which doesn’t actually have to be far or expensive), and helping others. Researchers have proven that listening to upbeat or cheery music can improve your mood both short term and long term (Real Simple). Try setting your alarm with upbeat music so that you wake up to something already positive in your day! Planning a vacation is another great way to increase your happiness. Unfortunately, we are students and this is not always plausible. But! Going downtown shopping, eating, and skating during the winter is one way to take a break from school work for an afternoon and forget about the winter blues. Finally, helping others is a way to make someone else feel amazing, which in turn helps you to feel great as well. Take some time to volunteer with one of the many organizations on campus, you won’t be disappointed!
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario (n.d.) Retrieved February 2, 2017, from
Diabetic Living (n.d.) Retrieved February 2, 2017, from http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/
“How to Beat the Winter Blues.” No date. Online image. 2 February 2017.
Real Simple Food Collection and Lifestyle Network (n.d.) Retrieved February 2, 2017, from