When you wake up and the weather is unwelcoming, the last thing you might want to do is get out of bed, let alone go to classes, clubs and sport practices.
If you struggle with seasonal depression, you are far from alone. Winter has definitely taken a toll on the mental health of campus, but the blues don’t need to have the last laugh.
There are a few strategies we can use to fight seasonal depression.
Seek help. Not only does the counseling center provide free, professional therapy, they also have a variety of group sessions, workshops and, of course, our favorite therapy dogs. However, you can find equally consistent support in friends, Personnel Assistants (PAs), Discipleship Assistants (DAs), hall directors and floormates. Whatever you do, do not keep your feelings to yourself; you may feel even lonelier than before.
Try not to fall out of your everyday routine. Sticking to your morning routine, eating regularly and getting to classes and appointments — especially when you don’t want to — will help you feel regulated and ‘reset.’ Adding positive alone time, like regular prayer and journaling, is another helpful practice. While it may be hard to implement at first, accountability partners can be great resources.
Ask a friend to check in on you. If you want to exercise to build up endorphins, journal to relieve stress or pray to find peace, asking a friend to text you with reminders might be a good option. Although it’s easy to set a reminder on your phone, they aren’t the best when you’re feeling unmotivated; you might just want to turn it off! Having a person act as your physical reminder, and doing the same for them, will help build accountability.
Open your blinds. This sounds simple, but sunlight is a natural protector against depression. Going on daily outdoor walks with no destination and no time constraints can help us to recharge and improve our focus when it comes time to work. On a cloudy day, stop by your dorm’s front desk to borrow the sunlight lamps, provided to each dorm by the counseling center.
Make lists. When everything feels jumbled in our brains, it can feel like there is more pressure on us than there really is. Make a list of assignments, appointments and odd tasks that you need to complete. It will look daunting at first, but nothing is better than the feeling that comes with crossing an item off of your list. Be sure to schedule some time for sleep, too!
Not every strategy works for everyone. However, if you talk to four friends, chances are at least one of them will be able to relate to the struggle you’re going through. Talk with your peers to find out which strategies they use to cope with mental health struggles.