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Ways to Deal with seasonal depression

Photo By: Wikipedia


Clare Weisenfluh, Staff Writer

   As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, many people find themselves dealing with low energy, high anxiety, and a general malaise that can be hard to shake. Serious cases can be diagnosed as seasonal affective disorder and treated with therapy and medication. But everyone is susceptible to periods of low mood during the dark and freezing fall and winter months. Here are a few tips on how to handle the blues.


1. Try aromatherapy

           Essential oils tend to fall in and out of trendiness, but their positive effect on mental wellbeing has long been documented. Different oils can have a range of effects depending on your emotions and your needs for the day. For example, rose oil is comforting. Lemon oil is energizing. Lavender is relaxing and can improve sleep. Peppermint oil is stimulating and uplifting. Don’t be afraid to put some research in and find the essential oils that will work for you. Always make sure to put just a drop or two on the skin first to make sure you’re not allergic before jumping into heavy usage.


2. Exercise regularly

           Yes, everyone always talks about the power of exercise. But, unfortunately for those of us who can’t stand it, it’s genuinely beneficial. Exercise boosts serotonin and endorphin production, two chemicals essential to keeping moods up, and it can work as an outlet for burning off excess nerves or stress. Starting a new exercise habit can feel impossible to keep up with for the first few days (or weeks). But soon enough, it will feel impossible to go through the day without exercising.


3. Find a sleep schedule and stick to it

           Bad sleep patterns can make even the most optimistic people feel hopeless. Be consistent with your bedtime and wake-up time. This is the best way to guarantee feeling ready to go in the morning and staying awake the whole day (though there’s nothing wrong with a short refreshing midday nap if you have the time). A sleep schedule may not sound fun, but it’s not totally restricting—once your body is used to it, having a late-night or two isn’t going to ruin anything. 


4. Keep a journal

           A journal is another habit that has to be built, but it holds long-lasting benefits. Venting emotions, jotting thoughts, and writing positives and negatives from the day can act as a way to get the weight off your shoulders on a day to day basis. In the long term, it can be helpful to go back through old journal entries and try to track patterns in both actions and thoughts. What activities throughout the day left you feeling good or bad? What are some recurring negative thoughts you’re having that should be addressed and changed?


5. Track your diet

Although feeling low can come with cravings for sugary or starchy foods, a diet based off of soda and pasta isn’t doing yourself any favors. Without enough physical energy, mental energy is going to be hard to come by. Vegetables, nuts, whole-grain bread, berries, bananas, and lean proteins give your body a natural boost and avoid a sugar crash. 


           Remember, if you’re really feeling low, Behrend’s counseling office is in Reed 1, and it’s easy to stop by and make an appointment.