With the short days, cold weather and rain, people tend to start feeling a little “blah”, experiencing what seems to be never ending dark days without much exposure to the sun. Feeling this way is completely normal, and the reason you may be feeling a little sad is because of SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder, that is. Lack of sunlight can cause hormonal issues that result in lowered production of “feel good” hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. Your melatonin production may be out of whack too, disrupting the regulation of your body clock and causing problems with falling asleep. As a student, this time of year can be extra challenging. Regardless of the weather, you need to stay motivated so you can succeed in reaching your goals. So we want to help! Read on for our top 3 tips on elevating your mood and staying focused during the dark winter months.
Make goal setting a priority. Regardless of the weather, it’s important to continue to focus on a goal. Not only will this help you stay on track, but it can also make you feel happier. Having a purpose usually brings with it a sense of fulfillment. The reward of achievement or even just thinking about how it will feel to achieve a goal can help you produce more of those “feel good” hormones such as dopamine. So take some time to sit and write out your goals, and be sure to keep in mind why you want to make these achievements. The most important things to do are to give yourself a timeline, be realistic, try to predict what obstacles there may be, and believe in yourself. It’s a good idea to check in at the beginning of each new week to see what progress you have made to make sure you are staying on track.
Look after your physical health
If the lack of light is getting you down, find ways to get more light! Even though it’s cold, it’s good to bundle up on a cold clear day and get outside. It may not be the type of sunny weather that has you out on the beach getting a tan, but it will still have a positive effect on you. But what about those cloudy, rainy days? Try a SAD lamp! These are lamps designed specifically for use by people with seasonal affective disorder, and are usually used in the morning to help elevate mood. Do a Google search for yourself to decide if you think one of these could help you! Another option is to take supplements, most importantly vitamin D, omega-3 and B12. Consult with your doctor first to find out if that is the right choice for you. And finally, eat nutritious foods and exercise! Obviously this should be done year-round, but is especially important during the colder months.
Stay social! Spend time with friends and family. Call a loved one, go out for dinner with friends, watch a feel-good movie; just make sure that you are interacting with other people. Even taking a stroll and smiling at a passerby or having a short interaction with a cashier at a store can improve your mood. Human interaction can be a great source of happiness.