Active Minds: don’t let the weather get you down

Sarah Shindler, Contributing Writer

With all the snow that we have been getting over the past few weeks, I have noticed that my moods and the moods of my friends have been a bit dull.  This weather can be difficult to deal with sometimes because of the cloudy skies and cold temperatures.  But can you imagine suffering from an illness that results from the change of seasons?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that can be related to the changes of seasons (www.mayoclinic.org).  Seasonal Affective Disorder usually starts in the fall and continues through the winter.  People suffering from SAD may have less energy, become more moody than usual, lose interest in usual activities and sleep more without feeling rested (www.webmd.com).

There is no known cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but experts believe it may be due to a lack of sunlight

It can be hard to tell the difference between SAD and other types of depression because of similar symptoms, but it is likely to be SAD if you have been depressed during the same seasons for at least two years in a row.

Three-fourths of sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder are women, with up to three percent of the population in the U.S. possibly suffering from winter depression. SAD occurs in both the northern and southern hemispheres, but is extremely rare in those living within 30 degrees latitude of the equator.

Usually during the spring and summer months, moods are uplifted and that feeling of sadness can disappear.  However, with long winters like in Meadville and now six more long weeks because the groundhog saw his shadow, some people may feel like spring and summer are never going to come.

So while the weather may not be changing anytime soon, YOU can work to improve your mood to beat the winter season and make yourself happy!  Here are a few ways to do so:

-Keep yourself in the light (and make sure you’re getting enough of it)

-Exercise!

-Eat wisely and make sure you are getting enough protein

-Reach out to others

-Keep moving

While these tips may seem simple, when working together the results can be pretty great!  I know I personally always feel better when I am out and about, had a good work out that day and have been eating healthy.

I find myself to be happier when surrounded by close friends and participating in activities I enjoy.  While it is difficult to do with our crazy college schedules, small steps can lead to big results.  Maybe try a new healthy food or try going to the gym once or twice a week.  Reach out to a friend to grab a bite and take more walking breaks when you’re doing work.

Even a small change in your daily life can vastly improve your mood and happiness!  Good luck and keep chomping on!

If you recongize any of these symptons, visit the counseling center in Reis Hall and make sure to stop by Active Minds.