It’s that time of the year again where the cold weather seems to slow everyone down, due dates approach quickly, motivation to do school work has dropped along with the temperature and students are longing for summer break. This time of year causes lots of stress for people, especially students and the weather can bring sadness and decreased energy. Whether it’s stress or even depressive episodes, people may not know how to handle it.
Sometimes during the winter, people experience depression only during this season and this disorder is called seasonal depression. By definition, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression that occurs during changes in seasons, mainly in the winter. The main cause for the disorder is when the seasons change, so does the amount of sunlight. Sunlight causes hormones to release serotonin in which it boosts people’s mood and relieves some anxiety.
“If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. These symptoms often resolve during the spring and summer months,” according to mayoclinic.org.
Symptoms can include no energy, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, losing interest in everyday activities, or the feeling of sadness 24/7. These symptoms don’t automatically mean that one has SAD, they could mean many other things like lack of sleep, feeling overworked, stress, and/or anxiety.
“Seasonal depression isn’t super common but it’s caused by the lack of sunlight in the winter. People tend to get depressed, some more than others, that they may end up having to get light therapy,” OSU nurse Desi Gray said.
Whether it’s SAD or stress, there’s a unanimous feeling of fatigue during the winter. However, there are some ways to become less stressed and to boost moods. One way is to find a new healthy hobby like painting, journaling, exercising, and yoga.
“Finding something new you enjoy doing releases dopamine in the brain and relieves stress and it inspires you to do it again. It especially helps your mental health if it’s a group activity and you feel connected,” Gray said.
Sometimes the key problem to having depressive episodes and/or stress can be from having no routine and balance. This is difficult at first however, once one can get through the first week, everything should come naturally. A routine doesn’t have to be complex and unrealistic; start with the basics and start implementing more beneficial habits over time. This also means having a better sleep schedule which can be done by going to bed at the same time and trying to get eight to 10 hours.
“A regular bedtime routine is essential to good sleep hygiene. Turn off your electronic devices an hour before bed and avoid stressful conversations in the evenings and instead, pick up a light read or practice a few minutes of meditation,” according to piedmont.org.
Loneliness could also be affecting moods leading to depression. Hanging out with a good loved one, family, or friend could potentially help someone get through the stressful time. Even spending time with a pet can boost moods and relieve stress. Spending quality time with someone that cares could help one’s mental health tremendously.
“Spending time with my family and friends is so comforting after having different stressors throughout the day. I’m always happy when I get to spend time with them,” sophomore Hailey Zinn said.
Altering the habits and the state of mind is crucial for those with mental health issues such as stress and depression. Though the process of changing one’s self mindset is difficult, once they preserve and make a change, it’s probable life improves for them.
“My mental health is important because having a good mindset and outlook on life makes it so much more enjoyable,” Zinn said.