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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Prioritize your mental well-being as the winter months come to an end

Take that, seasonal depression!


We have good news: Winter is almost over. You may have already picked up on some signs; each day is longer than the last, the temperature is steadily creeping up and — perhaps most telling of all — Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow. 

This news couldn’t come at a better time. This quarter has been long, rainy and cold, a potent combination that has resulted in many of us (the Editorial Board included) feeling the effects of what is commonly referred to as “seasonal depression.” Formally known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this type of depression occurs during certain months of the year, with most of those affected feeling it during the colder winter months due to shorter days and a general lack of sunlight. 

On top of this, college students are already feeling the effects of poor mental health in general. According to a study by The Healthy Minds Network, the 2021-22 academic year saw the highest recorded rate of depression among college students in the 15 years the survey has been active. This coincides with a statewide shortage in university mental health services, with counselors often unable to provide adequate help for students in need. This is due to high student-to-counselor ratios and a lack of training to address specific issues. While this is undoubtedly a complex issue, the doom and gloom of the winter months don’t help.

If you’re feeling particularly down this quarter, remember that you’re not alone. College is already hard, and adding SAD to the mix only makes it that much more difficult. However, we encourage you to try and practice positive thinking as the quarter slowly nears its end. 

Celebrate the little victories (like attending all your classes one day), and see this time as an opportunity to prepare for the fast-approaching warmer months. If you’re already spending more time indoors because of the cold, take the time to set new goals for the spring or finally try that hobby you’ve been meaning to give a shot (if it so happens to be journaling, the Editorial Board’s got you covered with some prompts).

Also, take advantage of the scientifically-proven fact that we need more sleep in the winter — your early afternoon three-hour long nap is totally justified. Just make sure you don’t sleep through your 3:10 p.m. lecture as a result. 

When we have a warmer, sunnier day, consider taking the time to get outdoors; a 15-minute walk to clear your mind from studying can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. If you somehow find yourself with more time on your hands, get out of Davis by taking a day trip. We recommend wine tasting in Napa, hiking at Lake Berryessa or even just a quick trip to Sacramento for lunch or coffee.   

Not every day from here on out will be sunny, though. Be kind to yourself as we enter the final push till spring. Remember that productivity may look different in the winter; prioritize cooking your favorite meals, getting enough sleep, going to your discussion (yes, we’re talking to you) and generally offering yourself grace. 

Mental health is always important, but it is especially vital to show up for yourself in little ways during these last few weeks of the coldest quarter. 

Written by: The Editorial Board


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