As winter progresses, and the days become shorter, many people begin to experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, and lethargy. This phenomenon is often referred to as “seasonal affective disorder” or SAD. If you are experiencing SAD, you may notice that you have a lack of motivation or are feeling unusually sluggish. This can be particularly challenging for those who already struggle with anxiety or depression. It can also be challenging if you are a student, as you may be finding it difficult to study or write exams. It can be easy to fall into a routine of staying inside a library, oversleeping, and generally being unproductive. To help combat these symptoms, I usually find that taking some time to care for yourself is essential. I admit that I am guilty of spending hours studying without breaks and not stepping outside of my house, but I have found a few things that have helped me manage my stress levels and improve my energy. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Start your day off right.
I find it helpful to start my day with a short meditation – it could even be five minutes long if that’s all the time you have. I usually follow this up with some gentle yoga, maybe for about 15 or 20 minutes. The key is to have a morning that isn’t rushed or stressful – if you can begin with a calm morning, any stress you experience during the rest of the day will be easier to manage, as you will not be as frazzled. Yoga can also help energize you, get your blood pumping, and give you fuel for the rest of the day.
- Go outside!
I know it’s wintertime and you probably don’t want to take a jog or be out for too long, but making sure you get exposure to sunlight is important. A lack of vitamin D is associated with symptoms of SAD. Even if you just go for a quick walk or sit outside for a short amount of time, I think it’s important to get some fresh air and reconnect with the earth. It can also give you a moment of reflection and calm.
- Connect with family and friends.
It can be difficult at times to get up and engage with people around you, especially when you feel lethargic and don’t want to get out of bed. But it is important to remember that staying connected to people around you is important – it gives you a chance to have fun and de-stress. It can even be as simple as going out to dinner with a friend or visiting family for a couple of hours. I guarantee that you will feel better in the presence of people who really care about you.
- Have time for yourself.
Find something that you really enjoy doing by yourself. It could be anything from baking to drawing, but it should be something that keeps you busy and attentive.
I think the most important thing to do is to be engaged with the world and to keep busy. Doing something new or something you enjoy can be particularly motivating, and it might be helpful to schedule that into your day and make it a priority.
These are my personal tips on how I keep up my mood during the wintertime, but there are many other strategies that you can try. Here is a link that outlines some other suggestions:
I hope some of these tips are useful – there are many ways of coping with SAD, so make sure to find something that works for you!
Ayesha is a fourth year student at the University of Toronto, majoring in Psychology and completing a double minor in Cinema Studies and Sociology. She enjoys watercolor painting, fantasy fiction, and crime dramas. She was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression and Social Anxiety.