Staying sane this season

Hope Austin

It’s getting colder, the days are shorter than ever, and the “winter blues” can be felt in their full force.

Don’t be fooled by the cute euphemism. “Winter blues” is often just a way of dismissing a very real and very serious problem: Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a subtype of major depression that occurs during the changing seasons, most commonly occurring during the winter months.
The symptoms of SAD are typical of depression: hopelessness, lethargy, losing interest in things you used to love, etc. If that sounds familiar, you may want to consider these tips to help maintain good mental health this winter.
Get outside. Even though the brisk winter weather may leave us wanting to crawl into bed to hibernate until April, it is regrettably not a feasible way to live. It’s important to get some sunlight and fresh air sometimes, even if it means leaving a warm bed from time to time.
Stay active. In addition to all of the health benefits, exercise can also help reduce stress, which can lighten your mood. Even though lazing about may seem like a great alternative to getting up and making the effort to go to the gym, it’s one of the worst ways you can deal with depression. Staying active can help alleviate some symptoms of depression.
Take care of yourself. At this point in the year, we have a tendency to get so wrapped up in school or work that we forget to prioritize basic needs. That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself, whether you’re sticking to a regular sleep schedule or engaging in regular physical activity, going the extra mile in your routine will help keep your head above water.
Socialize. With depression, there are times when interacting with other human beings may feel like pulling teeth. It’s still important to make an effort to connect with other people. Not only do friends help lift your mood, they can also provide a support system to help you get through the darker times.
Sympathize. Even if you’re not personally struggling with depression, chances are you know someone who is. According to the CDC, about one in ten Americans will experience some type of depression in their life. If you want to help a loved one who is dealing with depression, sometimes all you need to do is lend a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on. These are just a couple of small ways to let your loved ones know that you care.
I’m not a medical or mental health professional, but these are tips I find helpful when facing winter depression
UMKC has great resources available to students who struggle during the long winter months. If you are feeling depressed and need some professional assistance, do not hesitate to contact Student Health Services or the Counseling Center, both located at 4825 Troost.