By Emily McLaughlin
View this in The Daily Collegian!
It is easy to let yourself sink into what many consider the “Winter Blues” as winter continues to crawl on and the snow refuses to melt. We are tired of walking on sheets of ice, bundling up just to get to class and barely seeing any daylight. Most of us let these “blues” get the best of us and diagnose ourselves with what our trusty friend, WebMD describes as SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder. The symptoms? As days become shorter and colder, we become more depressed. We turn to vices including eating more, indulging in carbohydrates, sleeping in and letting our moodiness take hold of us. The negative effects of all of this include weight-gain, fatigue and overall unhappiness.
Now that we are well into the month of February, added with the fact that the Groundhog did not see his shadow, we are teased with the glimmer of hope that springtime is on the way. But, why wait for the season to change for our mood to change?
Here are some tips for keeping the glass half-full while we continue to freeze our butts off and chipping away at ice and snow piles:
1. SMILE. Cliche? No. Smiling will make you feel better. A number of research studies conducted at the University of Alberta in Canada have shown that making a facial expression, such as a smile, can produce effects on the body that are similar to those that result from the actual emotion, such as happiness. Therefore, find positives to grin about (the following tips might help).
2. Exercise. Staying active will help you burn off all of those extra carbs you are taking in. Physical activity is also proven to increase your immune system, improve your sleep, boost energy, strengthen bone, reduce stress, prevent disease, increase longevity… I could go on forever.
Ps. UMass Campus Rec.
3. Let there be light. Sunlight makes us happy, so take advantage of as much natural lighting as your can by opening up those blinds. When sunlight is limited like it is in the winter months, we must find alternatives. Before it gets dark, turn on some lights in your apartment, that way, when darkness falls you barely notice. This will help you keep your energy up and keep you motivated through the evening. To beat SAD, psychologists suggest light therapy.
4. Avoid binge drinking or eating. This is hard to do, especially since there is often nothing better to do when you are just sitting around inside all day, but try to occupy your mind and you body with other means. If you are tempted to snack, choose something healthy such as energy boosting snacks like almonds, whole grains, yogurt and fruits.
5. Stay busy… This will also help keep your snacking to a minimum. Find wintertime hobbies, whether they are indoors or outdoors. Draw, knit, learn to ski, find fun in shoveling… anything.
6. Do not lose your sleeping pattern. Maintaining a consistent sleeping pattering is very important to overall health. In the winter it is easy to sleep late and want to stay cozy in bed because it is: a. so cold outside of your comforter, b. so cold outside your front door, c. so cold everywhere. We tend to sleep late, skip class, and then we are up into the wee hours of the morning until we fall asleep again. Get up, get energized, jumpstart that metabolism, and I promise that winter life will be more manageable.
7. Get dressed. Don’t lounge around in sweats all day (guilty). Put on some jeans and cute boots. Put on a bright top. You will feel better knowing you are one of the best-dressed on campus just because you didn’t wander to class in your pajamas.
8. Ditch the depressing winter playlist. In November and December, it is all about the upbeat holiday jingles. Come January, the holidays are over, and there seems to be little to look forward to until the spring flowers bloom. Put on something a little more upbeat than your Indie/Emo/Rainy-day playlist. My picks? Check out The White Panda, Ingrid Michaelson, Guster, and anything Top-40 to get the blood pumping.
9. Stay motivated. Plan things to look forward to. Make plans for the weekends so you have something exciting to do after a week of school and work. This will make time fly and the winter more bearable. Did we forget how fun Twister is?
The mat is small. Much smaller than we remembered.
10. Relax, read, take a deep breath. Winter only last a fraction of the year. Embrace it and find the joys that it brings. Find time to finish that book you started over the summer or find time to watch those movies on your must-see list.
We will see the green grass again soon, but for now, maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle for ultimate happiness. Following these tips and you will boost your mood and jumpstart your Spring-y energy.