Article by Jayden Jones, Opinion Editor
It’s that time of year again. Lake effect is in full effect. When we do see the sun we run outside, trying to soak up the vitamin D while we have the chance. Many of us (sometimes without knowing it) fall into a stupor. We have less energy, we make more late night runs to Family Fare for Oreos and end up eating the whole thing in one sitting. We sleep when we’re not in class. We don’t laugh as much.
These are all signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Around 10 million Americans suffer from SAD every year. According to the National Institute of Health, classic symptoms of winter onset SAD include oversleeping, overeating, and social withdrawal.
I was unfamiliar with SAD until my first Michigan winter set in. Coincidentally, it was winter that afterwards was dubbed “snowpocalypse” or “the polar vortex.” I consumed an abundance of Pop Tarts and hardly left my bed that winter. When my family sent me a light therapy box, I felt ridiculous. I didn’t see how sitting in front of a very bright light for a few minutes every day was going to help. To my surprise, it helped immensely. Soon enough, I found that if I missed a stint in front of my light box, I had less energy and felt more lethargic. I was embarrassed that I needed it so much, but it became a staple in my winter routine.
Tools such as these can make life in the winter significantly easier. As Americans, we tend to subconsciously muscle through difficult times without asking for help. In a culture where self-sufficiency and independence are valued over all else, it’s difficult to believe that there’s another way to deal with life’s more challenging seasons instead of putting our heads down and plowing through.
If you’re looking for a sign to take action against SAD or any sort of winter apathy, this is it. Start taking vitamin D and B12 supplements. Set up an appointment with CHWS, or stop by their offices in lower Donnelly. They have two light therapy boxes, a massage chair, and plenty of snacks. All are resources that you SHOULD take advantage of – they are there for you to use.
Keep an eye on your friends as well. If you suspect your roommate to be holing up in their room, knock and invite them sledding or ditch Wege for some late night Chipotle. If you’re looking to stay active this winter, find a workout buddy. Host a game night, start a puzzle, add to the apartment tea stash. There’s no reason to spend this winter cold, alone, and depressed. You’re surrounded by people who have more in common with you than you might realize.