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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Unseasonably warm weather spurs excitement, climate anxiety

UC Davis students discuss unusually warm winter quarter’s effect on mental health

By SOPHIA PLACHE-CREECH — features@theaggie.org

February and March have felt unusually warm in Davis this year. Usually during winter there is an uptick in people affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), since S.A.D. symptoms coincide with weather patterns, especially cold or rainy ones. This winter quarter seems to have been warmer than previous years, and the 72 degree weather during winter quarter is a welcome surprise for many students, like second-year Claire Kwok.

“I’m happier if I have sun and I can go on a walk and be outside,” Kwok said. “I think sunlight is generally good for everybody. I know two of my friends are really dependent on being outdoors and being in bright places.” 

Montana Olson, a third-year psychology major and an Each Aggie Matter (EAM) Mental Health Ambassador, said that this is in part due to the psychological ways weather affects us. They explained that vitamin D intake has been found to have a direct effect on mental health. It can be obtained through sunlight, but during the winter, Montana said that people often become deficient in vitamin D due to lack of sun exposure. They suggested that those who feel they become vitamin D deficient in the colder months try to get it in other ways. 

“I used to take vitamin D supplements when I wasn’t getting enough sunlight, and I think it was helpful,” Olson said. 

Kwok said that in addition to the warmer temperatures, it has been easier to get outside this winter quarter because last year, she said she didn’t have the energy to get outside after being on Zoom all day. 

“We’ve been able to go to classes and get that bit of sun,” Kwok said. “In a way, that recharges your battery because you can be exhausted from doing nothing.” 

Kwok said that in addition to being in person, she felt that this year, the weather didn’t seem as cold or rainy, which helped her mood. 

“There are two ends to the spectrum on how it affects mental health,” Kwok said. “You can appreciate the warmer weather, but then, you think, ‘Why is it so warm already? It’s just March, and we’re already wearing shorts and tank tops.’”

Olson also said that they are concerned about how warmer weather will affect the climate in the future.

“I was just reading an article about what the world would look like in 100 years,” Olson said. “We’re just warming up slowly and water levels are rising.” 

Kwok and Olson both felt that it’s important to educate themselves on environmental issues like climate change but also stressed the importance of taking breaks in order to prioritize mental health. Kwok suggested taking advantage of the warmer weather Davis is experiencing and enjoying the nature in the area.

“Getting outside is really nice. Go on a camping trip. I went on one last weekend where we could be unplugged and just take a break to be in nature and appreciate what we have right now.” 

UC Davis students can schedule individual counseling sessions with the Student Health and Wellness Center by calling 1(530)752-0871. For additional on-campus resources, visit the Healthy UC Davis or Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center websites. 24-hour confidential counseling and referral information for Yolo county is available at (530)756-5000.

Written by: Sophia Plache-Creech — features@theaggie.org

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