As the calendar states, the first day of spring is finally approaching after a long and cold Nebraska winter. Though March 20 may seem well within reach, if you are anything like me these last couple of weeks feel like they are dragging on, with no end in sight.
Every year, without fail, seasonal affective disorder holds me in its clutches and makes the already unsavory weather even more miserable. Luckily, through my years of experience, I have found ways to survive the end of this season and carry myself into spring with a bounce in my step.
This might sound redundant, but the sun actually impacts your mood without you even knowing it. As a busy college student, I often lock myself in Love Library while working on schoolwork for hours at a time. Next thing I know it’s 5:00 p.m., the sun is setting and the only source of light I have received is the glow from my laptop screen. Without meaning to, I have neglected my main source of Vitamin D, and SAD wins yet again.
Here is my easy solution: go outside. I know it is freezing out, but just 20 minutes of time in the sun can greatly impact your mood for the better. If braving the wintery landscape isn’t your cup of tea, I recommend looking into Natural Light Therapy. This form of therapy mimics sunlight to enhance mood, energy, sleep and focus.
Trust me, I felt silly facing a bright plastic screen at the crack of dawn, but I can honestly say that utilizing this tool has improved my mood greatly. Not only does it improve my mood, but it also wakes me up in the morning and makes me feel less lethargic.
I know every influencer, parent or therapist recommends self care as a way to improve your mood. I have heard it time and time again, and every time it sounds like a myth. How is using a face mask and reading a book going to solve my depression? Or so I thought.
No, self care isn’t the solution to all of your issues, but it is one useful tool to help you feel better about yourself. The key to making this work is to figure out what you consider self care to be. This can take a number of different forms.
Personally, when I practice self care, I like to read, journal, pamper myself and even just watch my favorite television shows. As long as whatever you're doing is enjoyable and allows you to take a step back from your hectic life, it’s considered self care in my book.
Call a Loved One
In this age of technology, phone calls have almost become extinct for young people. I have shuddered at the thought of having to call and make a dentist appointment, just like any of my peers. Instead, we would all like to just text rather than dialing 10 digits.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a Gen Zer, and I love to type out my every thought and emotion. Fortunately, I have found that sucking it up and calling someone is a very effective way to make myself feel a little better. Whether it’s your best friend, your dad or even a coworker, calling someone you love is an easy and quick way to turn your mood around.
Move Your Body
As someone who has struggled with depression and SAD for many years, I have had those days where the only time I left my bed was to go to the bathroom. These negative feelings consumed me entirely and left me exhausted and unwilling to move from my comfortable position.
This dangerous habit was no help to my mental or physical health. I am definitely not the most motivated person when it comes to exercise, but I have found giving myself an incentive to workout has led to better results. Once I force myself to get up and get moving, I feel so much better than before. The only difficult part is getting up and doing it.
Exercise releases endorphins, which means that your brain gets a rush of feel-good neurotransmitters, thus improving your mood. Exercise can be just about anything if you aren’t much of a gym rat, like myself. Going for walks, playing with your pet or even doing at-home activities are all great forms of exercise and are all ways to help you combat your winter blues.
I am not a professional when it comes to mental health, but it takes one person with mental health issues to know one. These are just some of the ways that help me get out of my worst episodes and help me become a more mindful individual. With only a couple weeks of winter left, the finish line is in reach. I hope these tips are found to be helpful and taken into consideration.
Above all, if you are struggling with your mental health, seek help as soon as possible. We are all in this together. The Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services partners with a number of campus resources to provide support, counseling and programs to ensure the well-being of every student.