5 Ways To Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

5 Ways To Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Is the winter weather wearing on more than just your tires? Here are some ways to counteract the affects of SAD.
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As the snowbanks pile higher I find myself feeling increasingly under the weather emotionally. In New England late February is associated with melting snow and sometimes rain, but this year we have been bombarded (and then some) with snow. And being someone who gets cold easily and enjoys a nice 75 degrees and sunny, I am finding myself and those around me, feeling down in the dumps.

The clinical term for this is Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as seasonal depression. The disorder is defined as, “a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health. SAD is a form of depression that if serious can require therapy and proper treatment, but there are some ways to counteract the effects in perhaps less severe cases or early stages of the disorder.

Having scoured the internet for ways to counter the effects of what some refer to as the “winter blues”, here are five ways to combat SAD:

1. Plan a trip

Booking a flight and an Airbnb for a getaway where there is a beach involved, always makes me feel a little warmer. It gives me something to look forward to. I hear Greece is beautiful in the springtime! And if Athens and Ouzo are out of your price range, Charleston, SC is supposed to be a nice trip as well.

2. Practice Mindfulness

Unless you live in Antarctica the snow outside will not be there forever (depending on your take on climate change, of course), so why not take advantage of it. Try winter sports like skiing or snowshoeing and if you’re not that ambitious try going for a walk to see the fresh layer of snow. As easy as it is to hate, you cannot deny that the white stuff is beautiful. Why not take advantage of it while it is here? Just know that the sun will come out eventually. After all, mindfulness is all about being where you are and in the moment. Be patient, try to find joy in the little things and it will be Spring before you know it.

3. Invest in some light therapy

Whether you prefer makeup mirrors, goggles or lamps, the market for indoor light sources that provide the virtual sensation of sitting out in the sun has been cornered. It is not the real thing, but there have been studies linking certain lights and their affect on people’s moods. Some say that sitting in front of the proper light for as little as 15 minutes a day can significantly lift your spirits.

4. Go out in the sun

In New England, the sun is a rumor that only a few have confirmed the existence of, but if you happen to be walking by a window in your office and there is light streaming through and emanating from this big ball in the sky, take a minute and stand in its rays. Even better, if you have five minutes, go outside and stand in it when it is hottest out. There is simply no substitute for Vitamin D directly from the source.

5. Exercise

As much as the gym seems to be this dreaded and perhaps mysterious place, getting your brain pumped with some necessary oxygen and endorphins may just give you the boost you need. Plus, your body will appreciate it.

Cover Image Credit: wikia

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What A Girl's Year Of Self-Love Feels Like

I am different and I am loved. No one can take that away from you.
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That one year anniversary comes up of that significant change you made in your life. How do you feel? You question yourself if you have grown enough.

You reflect back on the little victories like speaking your mind for the first time in a long time or the time you noticed you gaining that little sparkle of confidence in yourself again. But, then you remember why you did it in the first place. You made that change for you. You can still feel that sigh of relief finally having full clarity of the motivation behind that change.

You remember being scared. You know how easy it would be to stay the same. What will people think? Will they support me? Looking back, you know exactly who saved you while you were drowning in self-doubt. The gratitude that you continuously give to them will never be enough to truly thank them for everything they have done for you.

You realize that they are proud of you, and you are too. You know that they are the reason you know what self-love is. That was a virtue you had to build from the ground up. You are not scared anymore. You are brave.

You look back on what were your struggles and even still are. Sometimes you are sad and you do not understand why. Sometimes you fall back on bad habits. You can still over apologize just for being yourself.

You think you are being too much or too less. Am I draining the people around me? You panic at the thought of worrying the people that care about you, especially on days that are hard. Am I okay? Have I fully recovered from what damaged me a year ago? Breathe.

You are worthy. You are grateful. You are strong. You have battled enough and now find peace in your change. You now have a story to tell because those memories, those thoughts do not own you anymore.

You have begun to nourish yourself with what you love. You picked up an old hobby, you listen to music that makes you feel good, you reconnected with an old friend. You begin to realize sadness has become a distinct feeling that you can recognize, instead of a constant state. The little things have begun to regain its charm.

You are now, a year later, unshakeable. You see colors more vibrant and the sun is warm and inviting. You have prioritized yourself instead of seeing yourself as a burden. Socializing is not hard anymore. You are silly and goofy, and people often say, "It's good to see the old you". That truly makes you feel wonderful.

You have realized people need you as much as you needed them and you have regained strength to take care of them. It feels good to be a true friend again. A year later, You are different and you are loved. No one can take that away from you.

"Imagine in every possible way — physically, mentally, and emotionally — wearing yourself as a backpack at all times. And then imagine one day just taking it off and never having to carry yourself around again."


Cover Image Credit: Photo by Alex Ivashenko on Unsplash

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So You've Pulled An All-Nighter: THON Edition

Pulling an all-nighter happens.
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Nobody likes skimping on sleep, but chances are you’ve done it. Whether to study for an exam, finish a tough project, or you just DANCED IN THON FOR 46 HOURS, pulling an all-nighter (or an all-weekender?) happens.

And there’s no denying that even mild sleep deprivation has negative effects, including bad moods, bags under the eyes, unfortunately poor brain function, and health issues too.

And there's always the fear of falling asleep in class.

But don't worry, because there are steps you can take to minimize the damage of no sleep.

So since President Barron hasn't yet deemed the Monday after THON a Penn State holiday, here is how you can survive the days following THON and recover ASAP:

1. Sleep in:

The best thing you can do for your body after you've been up all night is to sleep in. Aren't those the best to words to a college student's ears?

Try your best to go to bed early for the next few days following the weekend and just let yourself sleep, avoid alarm clocks if possible.

And I am not advocating skipping classes, but if your 8 am isn't mandatory, it might not be a bad idea to not go.

2. Take a nap:

Naps are a college student's best friend.

Try strategic napping, don't sleep for 2 or 3 hours, instead a nap that last for 15-20 minutes can boost your energy and alertness.

Nap if you can but don't overdo it. Try to sleep at night as much as possible so you don't throw off your circadian rhythm, your sleep cycle.

You can also try caffeinated naps. Drink 1 small cup of your caffeine of choice, then take a 15-20 minute nap, and then wake up and get on with the rest of your day. For some, these caffeinated naps add the extra little push they need to get up after a nap.

3. Caffeine, with care:

When you’re tired, it’s tempting to use coffee or energy drinks to take the place of sleep you didn’t get the night before. But you already know that because come on, we are college students, we always try to replace sleep with caffeine.

The best way to "use" caffeine is to drink small amounts throughout the day. A larger amount will work for a short amount of time, but will cause a larger crash in the end.

So your usual trenta Caramel Macchiato with 2 extra shots from Starbucks? Maybe not this week.

Remember to go easy on the caffeine, even though an IV drop of coffee does sound heavenly.

4. Eat wisely:

Choosing your meals wisely is a must when you need extra energy after a long night. Meals with protein, fiber and complex carbs will help keep you energized and going for a long time.

Try whole grains, fish, chicken, nuts, eggs, dairy, fruits, and veggies.

Healthy snacks are a good idea, and avoid skipping meals.

Sleep deprivation commonly leads to binging on junk food but healthy meals and snacks in moderation will make you feel significantly better.

And don't forget water.

(Now drink more water)

And I know we are college students, but seriously, no alcohol until your body is back on track. Drinking alcohol does your body zero favors.

5. Be active:

Physical activity and being outside around bright light are other energy-boosting activities.

This week isn't the week to increase weights at the gym or try a tough work out. But instead wake up, stretch and go for a short jog or light workout.

And remember, physical activity helps you sleep better later at night.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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