How to Beat the Winter Blues

Winter nature landscape

Students always look forward to winter break, as it brings holiday celebrations, time spent with family and friends, and a well-needed rest from your studies. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Although many students are excited about returning to university, it’s common to feel a little down, due to missing home and struggling with the cold weather. This is called the winter blues. Most of the time, this is a mild condition that goes away on its own. Nonetheless, it still makes sense to take action to beat the winter blues as soon as possible and regain your motivation.

1. Stick to an Exercise Schedule

Although you may feel too fatigued to exercise, moving around is just what you need. The release of endorphins will lift your mood and help you better cope with pain. To stay disciplined, it’s best if you join a class or find a group of friends to work out with.

2. Spend Time Outdoors

Just being outdoors occasionally can help reduce fatigue and keep you energized. If possible, do some of your workouts outdoors. Alternatively, find other activities that allow you to enjoy the nature around you, even if that’s just taking a short stroll at some point during the day. You should discover that the fresh air refreshes you — particularly if there’s a slight breeze.

3. Sleep Enough

When you’re suffering from the winter blues, you may compensate by staying up late to finish all the tasks you should have done during the day. You may also sleep until later than you should because of a lack of motivation to get up. Both these habits will only make your winter blues worse. It’s important to create a sleep schedule that means you sleep exactly the number of hours you need. This means setting a bedtime and wake-up time and sticking to them — including on weekends.

4. Try Light Therapy

The fewer hours of daylight during the winter can be a major contributor to the winter blues. This is exacerbated if you’re unable to spend many of the daylight hours outdoors, such as if you have classes or other commitments. As a result, you may struggle to fall or stay asleep.

The solution may be light therapy. Most people who try it say it reduces their winter blues symptoms. Light therapy involves sitting in front of a special lamp that emits white light from fluorescent bulbs for at least 30 minutes a day, usually right after you wake up. It’s most effective when you do it at the same time each day — which is another reason for sticking to a sleep schedule.

A small light therapy lamp is affordable even for university students on a tight budget. Plus, it won’t take up too much space in your bedroom.

5. Make Plans to Socialize

You may think you want to spend all your time alone, but you’ll feel much better if you socialize. It doesn’t matter if you host a movie night in your apartment, join a club to meet new people, or arrange a video chat with family back home — the important thing is to spend time with others.

If you’re suffering from something more severe than the winter blues, you should seek professional support, such as through the counselling services on campus. However, if you just have a low mood, making some simple changes to your life could prevent you falling victim to the winter blues again next year. For instance, you can move out of your cramped dorm room and into off-campus housing. Ottawa students can find a new home at 1Eleven. You’ll have a spacious suite (either to yourself or shared with roommates) as well as use of the fitness centre, games room, and dedicated study spaces. Apply now to avoid living through another winter in residence.

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