Fighting off the winter blues

How to fight off winter blues until spring.

Hafsa Ahmed, Columnist

The short amount of light throughout the day and the dark, murky mornings really bring melancholy to the already cold winter. Feeling this sense of dread and sadness with light notes of exhaustion throughout most of the winter can be common in most of us. I personally feel most alive during autumn and summer, where the warm hug of sunlight and light breezes are so unlike the frigid temperatures of winter.

Oftentimes, it’s winter that keeps me in these slow dull episodes, but I wondered if there were other cases as well. Extreme cases that go beyond the feeling of season blues can be categorized as SAD when diagnosed by a professional. 

SAD, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a mood disorder characterized as having to deal with similar symptoms of depression during a certain period or season of the year. To be diagnosed with SAD you need to have at least five of these nine symptoms having less energy, trouble concentrating, fatigue, greater appetite, wanting to be alone, sleeping more than usual and weight gain. Although, the symptoms need to happen for the same period of time/season for at least two years to cause worry or a need for a check up.

These symptoms can also vary depending on what season the disorder takes effect. Winter to spring is the most common, but some people do show these symptoms in the summer. SAD is also inheritable within a person’s family and the population to be the most affected by it are those 18-20’s and mostly females. Males do experience SAD but their symptoms are often varied and hard to point out.

 Even if you do not have such an extreme case, the lack of sunlight,increase of workload and stress throughout the semester, it’s natural for many students to feel the winter blues. Here is some information to help you combat these winter blues or at least live through it until spring comes.

It’s important, like with many other mental and emotional things, that we see it as a problem, and recognize if it has been repeating itself. If you or a friend’s winter blues happen around the same period of time for two or more years, please seek help from a professional. 

Other things that often help are opening the curtains to let sunlight in, taking a breather outside to help you get some light and staying connected with loved ones for support. A regular bedtime is crucial when it comes to helping these sluggish days. If you’re reading this, I am not saying to drop your assignment or late night 2 a.m. research paper, just simply try to find a better time.

Creating balance is important as well, so create a bit of a routine to help. I am a more lenient and timely person but I despise time block schedules. To help with scheduling, I make a list of three to four priorities and a few maybes.  Please, don’t forget above all that your mental and emotional well being also need to be looked after and that it’s okay to get the winter blues.  

If you or someone you know may be dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder or any other mental issues the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can help. They are a free 24/7 treatment referral and información service in both English and Spanish.  

SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)


For Mental Health Minnesota and free consultation:

651.493.6634 or 800.862.1799