Fall is one of my favourite seasons, offering an opportunity to watch the green leaves change into burnt oranges, bright yellows and vibrant reds, but with the changing colours, the days become shorter. For many Redeemer students, by the time we leave class in the evening, the sun is already setting. While some of us may not even notice the changing seasons, others may experience the “fall/winter blues” and some might be diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, more commonly referred to as SAD.
SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. It begins and ends around the same time every year. Symptoms usually start in the fall and continue on into the winter months, draining individuals of their energy and making them feel moody. Some common symptoms of SAD include (but are not limited to these): difficulty concentrating, agitation, irregular sleeping patterns and constant exhaustion (Mayo Clinic, 2019).
When an individual is diagnosed with SAD, there are various treatments offered like light therapy, psychotherapy and traditional medications (Mayo Clinic, 2019). However, many individuals diagnosed with SAD, (as well those who suffer from periodic fall blues) have proposed various ways to counteract this seasonal sadness. This article is not attempting to provide you with professional medical advice, but contains a compilation of preventative measures for seasonal sadness, recommended by online articles and journals.
1) Check your Vitamin D levels.
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D has been linked to reducing depression (Healthline, 2019). Studies have revealed that about 32% of Canadians are vitamin D deficient (Statistics Canada, 2015). Spending more time in the sun can increase vitamin D levels, but it may be wise to take a vitamin D supplement during the dark fall and winter months.
2) Get outside
Spending time in the great outdoors can improve focus, lower stress levels, and reduce the symptoms of SAD (Earley & Rud, 2019). Studying at Redeemer has its benefits, since we are only a short car ride away from Dundas peak, the Escarpment, or one of Hamilton’s iconic waterfalls. Don’t have access to a car? Not a problem! Grab a friend and go for a walk, or play with a frisbee right outside of your dorm!
3) Make your environment brighter
Let’s face it, October and November are busy months for us. We are in the thick of midterms, and there isn’t time to avoid spending our days studying indoors. When choosing a study space, opt for an area with natural light or windows like the tables in the library or Commons!
4) Turn on the tunes
A 2013 study revealed that listening to upbeat or “happy” music significantly improved participants’ short term and long term mood (Earley & Rud, 2019). Hop onto your Spotify or Apple music account and create a fun playlist for when you’re feeling down!