Adapting to the winter blues of the spring semester

“Winter blues” is a term used to describe when one develops seasonal sadness because of the cold and lack of motivation. College can be stressful, and trying to find a balance between mental health, academics and the change in weather can often cause one to feel overwhelmed.

Marilyn Orellana (’23), a Spanish pre-med track and minor in chemistry, says that seasonal depression is real.  As a junior, Orellana is very busy. She is an RA for the Scott residential hall, tour guide for admissions, and a member of the LSU, LTO, WOC, and first-generation union. In addition, she is also a recruiter for the Phelps Scholars, a biochemistry researcher and a program assistant for Residential Life.  

Although she is busy most of the time, Orellana says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I find it helpful to keep myself busy because it creates a routine for me to follow. It also helps with time management skills and allows me to be productive.”

Orellana admits that it was not something that she learned quickly as a student. It was a struggle for the first year. “Balancing time with friends, academics, and dealing with seasonal sadness, was definitely hard.”

When asked how she deals with seasonal sadness, Orellana replied,“[y]ou can ask all my friends, I am a summer person. I thrive off sunshine and it majorly increases my mood. My personality changes and I am more carefree.” During her summer research, Orellana mentioned that she was thriving because of the variety of things she could do, such as going to the beach with her friends after the lab. “I was able to be more myself because I am not a cold person.” 

The cold weather in the spring semester leaves many feeling blue.

Orellana continued her thought by saying, “I am not a fan of the cold, which causes me to hibernate in my room instead of going out.” In the winter, Orellana mentions that the season can cause people to feel secluded and isolated even if one is not intending to withdraw from others, which can be hard. As a people lover,  Orellana says that winter sometimes makes it hard for her to go outside and be social, especially on a gloomy day. 

Orellana admits that she is not someone who likes to get vulnerable, which causes her to push forward by putting on a facade. However, having a good support system helps her because they are able to read her and identify when anything seems amiss. “If they notice that I am not around or not present, they pull me out of my room and get me out of my hibernation.” She adds on saying that sometimes it’s even hard to get lunch and that she has to be intentional about her mental health. “College is always going to be stressful no matter what, even life after college is stressful. It is an inevitable part of life.” Orellana says that perception is really important, how one reacts to stuff is crucial to how they deal with it. Freshman year was bad for Orellana because, like many students, she wanted to excel at her academics. “Acknowledging that I am doing my best has allowed me to act nonchalant about things. It does more harm than good being depressed in my room about the weather or academics.” Orellana says that changing her perception has allowed her to react and go through hard situations with more ease because she realizes that seasonal depression is relatable but rarely talked about.

Tips to deal with winter blues.

  • Get adequate sleep 
  • Engage in a hobby that makes you feel joyful 
  • Find someone to confide in and let it out
  • Spent time with your loved ones
  • Go for walk, if you can 
  • Eat delicious food and watch your favorite show
  • Get some aromatherapy in your room – it helps change the ambience
  • Exercise or do some body movement 
  • Take a break from academics or extracurricular activities and relax
  • Treat yourself to a nice hot shower 

Additional Resources

Here at Hope, there are many resources that students can utilize to get help if they are having a problem with their mental health or need somebody to confide in.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): CAPS is a free and confidential resource that provides students with licensed counselors who can help them discuss topics that relate to mental health. These include adjustment to college life, dealing with pressures and changes, resolving a life crisis that threatens success in college, coping with problems which stem from medical or physical concerns and how to succeed in college while coping with mental health. 
  • Professors: Sometimes students can be more connected with their professors. Hope’s small community lends itself to strong student-professor relationships. The professors are available and have office hours, and most are open to talking about anything. So, build a connection with them because they are here for students and want to see students succeed.
  • Campus Ministries: Chaplains in Campus Ministries are people that students can confide in if they feel comfortable. They are open to talking to you about anything and here to help you work through stressful circumstances.

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