Seasonal Sadness and Southwest Student Solutions

Kade Grierson, Featured Writer

There’s a crushing spirit that has visited each and every one of us during some point in our lives. It might follow an event or occasion, it might come unannounced and always unwelcome; but most often I have watched it roll in with the gray clouds that cover the Minnesota skies for a good half of the year. Some students who stick around for after school activities may know this feeling best, waking up in a cold and darkness and finding their way to school, watching the clock for six and a half hours before finally leaving under that same gloomy sky–only to repeat the process over the next day, in a state that gives an almost endless dragging sensation. 

1-26-23, The Weather for the last month

This seasonal feeling that comes with the colder and darker months of the year is not something unique to only a few of us. According to Boston University, 10 illion Americans are affected by what is medically known by Seasonal Affective Disorder, or almost ironically SAD for short. There’s even a more common term that’s widely used to describe the affliction; Winter Blues, and the concept of seasonal depression stretches back to even ancient Greece referring to them as a person’s “humors”. We’ve obviously come quite a long way since ancient Greece when it comes to understanding depression; or seasonal depression in this case, but that doesn’t change the mystery of how very hard it is to solve such an affliction. I decided first to seek the advice and knowledge of my peers on the matter, to better understand how this affects all of us; and the tools they might use or know of. Tess Saindon ’24, and Mateo Olson ‘23 both found themselves happier during the winter months. Saindon took to looking for alternative approaches during winter months, such as reading, or doing other activities inside with friends.. 

“In the winter you’re kind of stuck inside all the time, it gets darker and stays darker for a longer period of time, I’m just happier in the summer generally, I dunno, there’s just more stuff to do,” Olson said. Olson echoed the thoughts of Saindon, that keeping up social relationships and finding ways to socialize with friends was vital for happiness in the winter months. 

So we now know that seasonal depression is something that affects a wide spread of the population, local and nationwide; but what else can we do to help? According to my own personal experience, that of my peers, and medical experts; I’ve compiled the following list of items to help keep your spirits up during the winter. For me, I like to go over things that people can put into effect almost immediately and see results there after.

  • D3 Supplement 

A large part of why we are affected by this seasonal depression, comes directly from the lack of sunlight, vitamin D in specific. According to Margherita T. Cantora of Penn State, in addition to foods rich in vitamin D; these include fish, eggs, tuna, and fortified dairy, people should take an additional 600 IU each day from vitamin D. These supplements can be sold over the counter, at just about any grocery store. And are well worth it, not just for your mental, but also physical health. 

  • Get More Sun

This one might be a bit… obvious, but it needs to be said. It’s important even during the cold and darkest months of the year to get outside, bundle up and take a walk around the block, or simply sit by a bright window for a while and read. But getting real sunlight can be vital to keeping spirits up. Some other options could be to purchase a light therapy lamp; and spend a good deal of time near it each day. 

  • Exercise 

This one is also obvious and goes for just about anytime of the year, but it’s especially important in winter, even when you might be discouraged by the frost licked roads. Exercise can help with sleep, mood, and overall keep your energy levels up during winter months. Consistent exercise can also promote a healthy appreciation for oneself, and an overall sense of accomplishment. 

  • Set Goals, Keep Busy 

It’s important to not let yourself be taken away by the scenes of old men sleeping by the fire; set goals for yourself both big and small, be it in work, social, or personal life goals and overall purpose are vital. It doesn’t even have to be anything grand, it could really be as simple as finishing all of your laundry today, or maybe it could be as big as losing ten pounds in a month. Try to find routine in daily life without falling into the trap of indifference, work to better yourself in what you do, and find things or people you enjoy. An idle mind is prone to depression, so it’s important to keep busy. 

With these things combined, It’s possible to lessen that weight you might feel on your shoulders during the darkest parts of the year. Keep your head up, and take everything one step at a time; there is no trouble that will not eventually pass.