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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To All The Nurses In The Making

We tell ourselves that one day it'll all pay off, but will it actually?
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I bet you’re taking a break from studying right now just to read this, aren’t you? Either at the library with friends or in your dorm room. Wherever you may be, you never get the chance to put your books down, at least that’s how it feels to most of us. It sucks feeling like you’ve chosen the hardest major in the world, especially when you see other students barely spending any time studying or doing school work. The exclamation “You’re still here!” is an all too frequent expression from fellow students after recognizing that you’ve spent 10-plus hours in the library. At first it didn’t seem so bad and you told yourself, “This isn’t so difficult, I can handle it,” but fast-forward a few months and you’re questioning if this is really what you want to do with your life.

You can’t keep track of the amount of mental breakdowns you’ve had, how much coffee you’ve consumed, or how many times you’ve called your mom to tell her that you’re dropping out. Nursing is no joke. Half the time it makes you want to go back and change your major, and the other half reminds you why you want to do this, and that is what gets you through it. The thing about being a nursing major is that despite all the difficult exams, labs and overwhelming hours of studying you do, you know that someday you might be the reason someone lives, and you can’t give up on that purpose. We all have our own reasons why we chose nursing -- everyone in your family is a nurse, it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you’re good at it, or like me, you want to give back to what was given to you. Regardless of what your reasoning is, we all take the same classes, deal with the same professors, and we all have our moments.

I’ve found that groups of students in the same nursing program are like a big family who are unconditionally supportive of each other and offer advice when it’s needed the most. We think that every other college student around us has it so easy, but we know that is not necessarily true. Every major can prove difficult; we’re just a little harder on ourselves. Whenever you feel overwhelmed with your school work and you want to give up, give yourself a minute to imagine where you’ll be in five years -- somewhere in a hospital, taking vitals, and explaining to a patient that everything will be OK. Everything will be worth what we are going through to get to that exact moment.

Remember that the stress and worry about not getting at least a B+ on your anatomy exam is just a small blip of time in our journey; the hours and dedication suck, and it’s those moments that weed us out. Even our advisors tell us that it’s not easy, and they remind us to come up with a back-up plan. Well, I say that if you truly want to be a nurse one day, you must put in your dedication and hard work, study your ass off, stay organized, and you WILL become the nurse you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t let someone discourage you when they relent about how hard nursing is. Take it as motivation to show them that yeah, it is hard, but you know what, I made it through.

With everything you do, give 110 percent and never give up on yourself. If nursing is something that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life, stick with it and remember the lives you will be impacting someday.

SEE ALSO: Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Cover Image Credit: Kaylee O'Neal

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I'm 22 And I Still Don't Have My Driver's License, But It Doesn't Bother Me

Although sometimes it's inconvenient not to have one, it's not a major concern to me.

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When you turn 16, the one thing you can't wait to do is get your license so you can finally have your first taste of freedom and no longer need your parents to drive you around anywhere.

When I was 16, I had no intentions of getting my license because I had no interest in driving.

I'm 22 now and I still don't have my license. Although sometimes it's inconvenient not to have one, it's not a major concern to me.

Before you ask yourself why I still don't have it, you should know that me not having my license is not entirely a personal decision.

It's part me not trusting myself and part having a disability.

I have cerebral palsy, and if you don't know what that is, it's a disorder of the cerebellum that affects things such as balance, coordination, muscle movements and reaction times.

Having a fast reaction time and strong leg muscles are something that you need in order to drive a car. You've always got to watch for that one crazy driver who blows through the red light and constantly press down on the pedal, because how else would the car move?

Don't get me wrong. I do have my permit. I got it shortly after my eighteenth birthday and taking the test four, yes, four, times. I've been behind the wheel a few times on residential streets in my town, so I know the basics of driving a car, but it's hard for me.

I use my left foot to control both the gas and the break because the cerebral palsy is in the right half of my body. This is unfortunate for me because you need your right foot to drive. I'm not sure how I learned, but I found that using my left foot is a lot easier for me.

But, I learned pretty quickly that you can't do that when taking the actual driving test.

I haven't been behind the wheel of a car in quite a while because, truthfully, I've been busy. When I'm not at work, I'm at school, when I'm not at school, I'm at work.

I'm at school sometimes more than 12 hours a day because of homework and my internship and I work on the weekends at the same place my dad works at, so we ride together.

My mom drops me off at school in the morning before she goes to work and picks me up in the evening and my friends drive to all the concerts we attend.

I don't make that much at work, and my internship is paid but I don't get a lot from there, and I have student loans, a credit card and medical bills and my credit isn't that great yet, so I don't really have any money to buy a car.

Why have a license if I don't have the funds to purchase a car at the moment?

Sure, if I absolutely need a ride somewhere and my parents aren't home, it's a little difficult finding one if all my friends are busy, but that's about the only trouble it gives me.

I'm pretty much a homebody and I only have a few close friends that I enjoy hanging out with, and during the school year, I'm hardly ever home during the day anyway.

It gets a little annoying when my friends, family, co-workers and sometimes professors ask me when I'm going to get my license, but I try to explain it in the nicest way possible.

Without using my disability as the primary excuse, I let them know that I'm just not ready to drive nor do I have any way to purchase a car.

Maybe in the future, when I'm out of school and I have my finances under control, I will work on getting a car AND THEN my license.

I am aware and fully understand that the day will come when my parents won't be here to give me a ride anymore, but everyone else needs to understand that driving is a personal decision and not everyone is ready to do so at the age of 16.

And that's perfectly okay.

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