By Esther Morales
For many students, including myself, the weeks can bleakly start to bleed together as the fall and winter seasons kick in. Some days you truly can’t bring yourself to write that discussion post or hop on that Zoom lecture. But when it boils down, the root of the problem for a lot of college students isn’t as simple as burnout.
When classes resume and clocks change, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, creeps up. SAD is a type of depression linked to the changing in seasons, that starts and ends around the same time each year.
While the days get colder, know you’re not alone in this feeling. Seasonal depression is more common than you’d think, especially during the fall or winter, and shouldn’t be swept under the rug.
As someone who has struggled with this for years, it was important for me to first recognize the signs. For me mostly, it’s insomnia, lack of motivation, anxiety and self-isolation. Symptoms don’t stop there, unfortunately. According to Mayo Clinic, people often experience low energy, oversleeping and appetite change as well. For college students, this can mean performance problems in school and work, and potentially lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.
Though a feeling of hopelessness may hang in the air, it’s important to combat seasonal depression. Mental health shouldn’t be taken lightly, and you should always speak to your doctor with concerns. Self-care goes beyond putting a facemask on, and plays a huge role physically, emotionally and socially.
You’ve probably heard of the phrase “depression room” floating around the internet — it’s hard to keep things tidy when you aren’t in a clear headspace, which can become overwhelming. I spend most of my time in my room either working or in classes, and I find that how clean my room directly affects how productive I am. While tidying up your area may not seem like a significant step, it’s a step in the right direction nonetheless.
Maintaining social interaction during the era of Zoom calls and physical distancing is tough, but not impossible. Whether you’re confiding in a best friend, talking to your loved ones or hopping on a call from one of the College’s hundreds of student organizations, engaging in healthy forms of communication can boost your emotional well-being.
I always dread looking at the long new to-do list in Canvas every week. My friends and I have an ongoing joke whenever we turn in a late assignment we know wasn’t our best: it’s in God’s hands now. At the beginning of the semester, I found myself staying up until 2 a.m. trying to complete assignments I couldn’t bring myself to do all week. Sometimes I still ponder whether pink moscato will magically make me bust out an essay — probably not — but I’ve adapted to the rigor of online learning through weekly concrete planning and time management.
It’s important to set attainable goals for yourself. Take note of what assignments and obligations are coming up around the corner and stick to a schedule. We all know work can become overwhelming if you have multiple exams and assignments all due within days apart, so on the flip-side, make sure to take breaks.
Engage in personal activities that make you happy. Go ahead and listen to your favorite songs, take a walk around your neighborhood, make art or sit down with a good book. You have the power to tackle seasonal depression. Prioritize your mental health always, and find an approach that works best for you.