It’s that time of year. Winter coats are being pulled from the back of the closet. Hot chocolate sales are booming. Sneezes are heard all around. No more sitting outside to talk on the phone by the fountain or to do homework out on the patio.
As the weather gets colder, there is a shift. Sure, the holidays are slowly approaching, and many are beginning to get into that spirit. And of course, as college students, the semester is getting scarily close to ending.
While these can both be fairly happy times, many people experience more and more “funks” when the weather gets colder. Feelings of fatigue and general tiredness start settling in. Depression and agitation become more prominent with no apparent reason behind them. Maintaining good health feels like it is on the decline.
Even though it may feel isolating at times, if you have been experiencing any of these symptoms lately as the temperature drops, you are not alone in this matter. You may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as S.A.D, especially if these feeling are reoccuring around this time every year. While S.A.D can develop over the spring and summer, it is most prominent in the fall and winter months.
Although it may not seem like a big deal, S.A.D is an issue that needs to be dealt with properly. Many may shrug this disorder off as just “winter blues” that will eventually pass as time goes on. While, yes, conditions may improve as the weather gets less gloomy, it is still important to recognize and properly treat in order to make life during the harder times more bearable and even more enjoyable to go through.
Now, it is impossible to generalize that everyone who experiences these negative symptoms, such as low energy and feelings of sadness, has Seasonal Affective Disorder. Nonetheless, whether properly diagnosed or not, it is still important to take steps to properly take care of your mental health. Bad mental health, as seemingly minimal as it may be, is not something to be taken lightly.
A great way to attempt to counter gloomy feelings is to surround yourself with light. Even though it may be generally dark out nowadays, it still may be helpful to open up the blinds to let any sunlight that could be peeking through the clouds into your room. It is also helpful, contrary to popular belief, to go outside and get some fresh air and natural sunlight instead of being cooped up inside.
Health may be hard to keep up with during a stressful time, but it important now more than ever to maintain it well. Eat well despite all of the scrumptious temptations that this season brings. Exerce despite the yucky weather discouraging you from going out. Get enough sleep at night despite all the things that need to get done before the semester comes to a close.
Of course, if S.A.D-like symptoms feel like they are completely dominating your life, it is important that you seek professional help where therapy and medication may be necessary. The Wellness Center on campus offers free counseling services. Every enrolled student receives a total of 30 individual counseling sessions to use throughout their time at Elmhurst College. There is also group counseling sessions that take place, which are unlimited. S.A.D could be linked to other mental health disorders, so there is no shame in receiving extra help.
These next few chilly Chicago months could be really sucky, but with proper care and recognition of your mental health, you can make the most of them.