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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

‘Tis the seasonal depression

A+sad+winter+cabin
Nadia Hill
A sad winter cabin

The end of the year leads to spiked stress levels for many students. 

The combination of holiday events, finals week, and the change of weather can cause the winter blues. Symptoms include feeling exhausted, unmotivated, or a looming sense of emptiness. 

While everyone experiences a level of mental and behavioral shifts as the season changes, it affects people on a spectrum of severity. Seasonal Affective Disorder is the official diagnosis of intense depression for a period lasting at least four months, with winter being the most reported season to experience this disorder.

Whether you experience SAD or the “winter blues,” below are some tips for reducing stress and keeping your mind, body, and heart warm this cold season.

Consume Vitamin D

Millions of Americans experience this disorder and it layers on top of regular holiday stress. SAD is theorized to be caused by the lack of sunlight during the winter months. 

Neurologically, the phenotypic stability hypothesis suggests that Vitamin D reduces levels that power depression. 

Although the cold weather makes it difficult, attempt to spend time outside to allow yourself to soak up as much sun as you can.

Otherwise, you can get your Vitamin D from supplements, meat such as cod or salmon, dairy, and orange juice. 

Stay Active 

Levels of stress hormones decrease and the body releases more endorphins — which is a protein produced in the body that acts as a natural pain reliever and makes people feel good. When you exercise more frequently, you tend to have lower levels of stress and depression. 

The weather might make it more difficult to do some of the same physical activities that you’d do at other times of the year. 

While you can do intense at-home workouts, you can also simply move your body by dancing in your room to your favorite music or piling on the layers and going for a walk for about 30 minutes a few times a week. 

Commit to self-care rituals 

The term “self-care” is oversaturated in its current use. Self-care and specifically setting aside time from the stress of the world to focus on your mental and emotional health is important

With the abundance of advice and advertisements for self-care rituals on social media, it might be hard to pick and establish a care strategy that works for you. 

You don’t need to spend hundreds on bundles of perfumed lotions and candles or $40 face masks. You don’t even have to wait until you are in complete distress to care for yourself. 

Just like washing our hands or brushing our teeth, we need to keep our mental health. While that upkeep looks different for everyone, a daily practice of a relaxing activity that can reduce your stress levels will help keep you grounded.

Those activities can be anything from yoga to watching your favorite show — anything that you know you can engage in and feel more relaxed after.

Reach out to your support system

A support system consists of reliable people you can reach out to for advice, comfort, and respect. This can be any trusted individual like a friend, teacher, coach, or family member. 

Support systems are often correlated with recovery, however, social support influences all mental health. Having a few people who you know support you reduces feelings of isolation.

Family gatherings, especially around the holiday season, can bring massive amounts of anxiety. For those who have difficult or no relationships with family, spend time with friends or other positive people if you can. 

If you are obligated to go to an event where you feel you might become overwhelmed, have a plan in place to help you calm down. Excuse yourself to another room, the car, or even just take a walk to relax and reset.

Final Thoughts 

The holiday months can be difficult for a lot of people for a variety of reasons. Show compassion to yourself and others as we move into fall and winter break. Everyone’s probably — if not more— just as stressed as you.  

 

Nadia Hill can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Nadia Hill, Social Media Manager
Nadia Hill is originally from Carson City, Nevada, and is in the middle of her sophomore year. Currently, she is double-majoring in journalism (public relations) and studio arts. She is one of two social media managers on The Orion. Both writing and social justice have captivated her with the field of journalism and is excited to continue with her second semester on The Orion. In her personal time, she enjoys painting, performing and working with children.

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