Do you need a pick-me-up to help you through the gloomy winter months? Many people encounter symptoms of seasonal depression, better known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the “Winter Blues”. Don’t let these feelings become a part of your winter routine! Here are some non-medical tips to help you stay cheery even when it’s gloomy and grey outside.
When you exercise regularly, your body releases endorphins that reduce stress and increase happiness. During the gloomy winter, physical activity is especially important because it can boost your mood and help you shake off the blues. The Center for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise each week.
Sun Lamps/Light Therapy
Since you receive less sunlight during these winter months, artificial sun lamps can be used as an alternative to help your body get the vitamins and energy boost it’s lacking. If you don’t want to purchase one of these lamps for your off-campus home, you can also get your daily sun in at Counseling and Psychological Services’ Wellness Zone. They have artificial sun lamps that are free to use for any students at the University.
Vitamin D Alternatives
Your body typically gets most of its necessary vitamin D from the sun. On shorter, colder, and cloudier days during the winter, the amount of sun you get decreases, and you may experience a vitamin D deficiency. This can weaken your immune system and increase depression and fatigue. If you think you’re not getting enough vitamin D, stop by a local grocery store or pharmacy and pick up some vitamin supplements. Vitamin D can also be found in foods like fish, yogurt, eggs, and vitamin D cereals.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
A recent study at Stanford has proven that exploring nature may be linked to mental health benefits. This winter, get outdoors and find a favorite place to relax outside. Spend a Saturday exploring The Nichols Arboretum without getting too far away from campus. Additionally, Ann Arbor has many public parks for you to appreciate on a crisp winter day.
If you are in need of more assistance, remember you are not alone. There are many resources that can support you through any mental health issues. Here are a few:
- University Health Services (UHS) lists resources to assist with mental health.
- University of Michigan Psychiatric Emergency Service has a 24-hour crisis line at 734-936-5900.
- National Suicide Prevention Line also has a 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-273-8255.
- To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit organization focused on the de-stigmatization of mental health issues. They have stories of those living with mental health issues and a repository of helpful local resources for many different mental health issues.
-Contributed by Austin McCall, Neighborhood Ambassador-Elbel