Tips from CAPS: Beating the Winter Blues
By Lindsay Schimler, CAPS intern
The start of shorter days, longer nights and intruding colder weather can bring with it a mix of emotions. While some may eagerly anticipate the cozy charms of the winter season and the promise of a long-awaited break, others may find themselves struggling with a period of the Winter Blues.
These common seasonally based mood changes can bring on feelings of sadness, sleep disturbances and a notable lack of motivation. The good news is that you can make it to the end of fall semester without the Winter Blues getting the best of you! Here are some practical tips to beat the blues and maintain your mental wellness during the winter season.
Get sunlight and vitamin D
A primary trigger of the Winter Blues is decreasing natural daylight hours. Whenever you can, make an effort to get outside during daylight hours! Natural light is a great mood booster and can help reduce some of the symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Sunlight hard to come by? You may consider investing in a light therapy box, which can mimic natural light and be effective in alleviating winter-related mood changes.
Eating a diet rich in Vitamin D is also helpful for the Winter Blues. Foods like salmon, beef, eggs, cereals and milk are high in Vitamin D and can help you combat the negative effects of less daylight hours!
Energize your body and mind
Need another mood booster? Exercise is the way to go! Engaging in regular activity releases endorphins, feel good neurotransmitters that can help boost your mood and counteract the depressed mood sometimes associated with the winter season. You can take advantage of seasonal sports like ice skating or skiing, or if the chill is too much for you, find an indoor workout routine like yoga. The more you exercise and stay active, the better your mood will be and the more motivated you will feel.
Sleep is a crucial part of overall health and wellness throughout the year, but especially during the colder months. However, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule can be difficult as the days grow shorter. The first step to developing a healthy sleep routine is sticking to a sleep schedule that works for you! Set up an environment that is comfortable and conducive to sleeping and try to lay down at the same time every night. It may be tempting to hit the snooze on your alarm clock in the mornings, but maintaining a regular wakeup time is also important! An adequate amount of restful sleep is one of the best ways to fend off the Winter Blues.
Enjoy the simple pleasures
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that do the most for our overall mood. On a cold dark night, there’s nothing better than getting comfortable and curling up next to a fire with a warm cup of cocoa. Creating the environment for relaxing and winding down from the day can calm your mood and be something you look forward to at the end of the night.
Set manageable goals
With finals around the corner, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with everything on your to-do list. To combat feelings of helplessness, break tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. This can make large responsibilities feel less daunting while also providing a sense of accomplishment as you complete each task. You may even reward yourself with a cup of hot cocoa at the end of the day!
Know your campus mental health resources
The Winter Blues are common for many during this time of the year. However, if you are beginning to feel like the Winter Blues are affecting many aspects of your life or making it difficult to do the things you used to enjoy, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. WSU CAPS has resources designed for you.
Adjusting to the colder seasons can be a challenge for many people. Remember that you are not alone in your struggles with the Winter Blues! By incorporating these strategies into your routine, you can effectively combat the seasonal slump and maintain your mental well-being. With exercise, consistent sleep, small indulgences, manageable tasks, sunlight and the support of WSU’s mental health resources, you'll be better equipped to banish those Winter Blues and embrace the season with a positive outlook.
CAPS is here for you
WSU Applebaum offers dedicated Counseling and Psychological Services support to students on a group or individual basis. If you are interested in participating in CAPS services that can help, call 313-577-3243 or send an email. If you are struggling after 5 p.m. or during a weekend, holiday or university closure, call the CAPS Afterhours Program at 313-577-CAPS.
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