By Amy Jones
Starting your first semester of university can be daunting, which could invoke feelings of isolation or depression. Then you pair this with winter fast approaching, which can cause people to experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which happens when people don’t get enough sunlight. It is important to remember that whilst it may seem like you are alone, you aren’t as many people report their mood dipping during the depths of winter. No matter how bad you feel, try to take the best care you can of yourself.
Regularly Get Outside When It Is Sunny (Or Even If It Is Not)
Reduced exposure to sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels which are chemicals in the brain that affect mood and promote happiness. When there is a lack of serotonin there is an increased chance of depression. This is why it is important even if you don’t feel like going out for regular walks outside to push yourself still to leave the house. Why not check out the walking routes in your neighbourhood, you can even spice it up by downloading the Pokemon Go app or downloading a geotagging app. Both of these options can add extra fun to your daily walks. Another reason why reduced sunlight may affect your mood is your body gets a reduced amount of vitamin D3, having a lack of this vitamin can contribute to depression. However, you can get vitamins in both tablet and gummy forms that will raise your vitamin D3 levels.
Plan Things to Look Forward To
Whether it is meeting up with friends for a brew or throwing shapes on the dancefloor, having something to look forward to can carry you through dark times and turn negative thoughts into thoughts of excitement. If you have just moved to campus and you don’t know anyone yet to attend these events with, don’t worry! Everyone is in the same boat, you just need to get yourself out there by attending events hosted by your university. These events are designed to get people talking and making friends. Additionally, why not make some friends that are outside of the university bubble by downloading social meetup apps such as Meetup? Which has a wide range of events and groups to attend such as coffee meetups, walking groups and groups that go to bars and get to know one another. Whatever your interests, connecting with other people at the same time is bound to make things more enjoyable.
Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule can help you achieve better sleep and can help create balance in your life. You don’t have to pick a very specific time to go to sleep and stick to it religiously, but try to go to sleep within the same hour every night and get up at regular times in the morning.
Exercise is fantastic for releasing endorphins which are happiness hormones for your brain, after a strenuous workout your body is likely to feel tired but your mind can be left clear from worry and relaxed. If you don’t already exercise regularly and suffer from depression or anxiety exercise can be a fantastic addition to your toolbelt to address the problems you are facing and work to fix them. Another obvious benefit of exercise is its effect on your body, you will be faster, stronger and fitter; which will help your confidence and how you see yourself.
Try To Eat Healthy
Eating excess amounts of processed foods can leave you feeling depressed as you are not providing your body with what it craves, quality food! Why not take up learning how to make simple tasty dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs or even just a basic pasta dish? Your body and mind will thank you.
Develop A Regular Routine
Having a regular time when you do certain important things every day, can reduce anxiety and stress. As you get used to doing things at certain times, this can help you feel less overwhelmed. Picking regular times to study for example can benefit your concentration because your mood is likely to be better.
Speak To The Campus Councillor
You may benefit from talking therapy, where the counsellor can work with you to get to the bottom of your feelings and work together on solutions and tools that you can use daily to combat negative feelings and emotions. Some people may feel nervous about choosing to go into therapy, but what you must understand is that sometimes people’s mindsets may be locked on finding negatives in life and things to be scared of. It is through taking the first steps which may feel terrifying that you learn to understand that things are not as bad as you make them out to be in your head.
Keeping up with your health checks
Staying inside and fending off the cold is our first instinct when winter arrives. Although this is the ideal scenario, with a toasty cup of hot chocolate, we still need to make sure that we are staying up to date with regular health checks. Whether it’s going to your annual check-up at the dentist or going to the doctors for a flu jab, the world doesn’t stop when you go to higher education. Make the most out of your health entitlements as a student and go for your check-ups. Expensive treatments such as all-on-four get a lot more expensive once you enter the adult world and lose these benefits!
Many people suffer from the seasonal affective disorder (SAD), however, its effects can be magnified when students move away from support structures at home into a university campus full of new people that they don’t know yet. But trying out the different tips above can help you combat winter blues not only this year but also for years to come.