Caring for Your Mental Health: Cold Seasons
Hailing from a country that is sunny all year long, others have warned about seasonal affective disorder or winter depression, whereby the shortening of daylight hours contributes to one’s feelings of fatigue, trouble in concentration, loss of interest in activities and hopelessness. Coupled with transitioning to a new place for new students and the nature of LSE where academic excellence is expected, it is easy to fall into a downward spiral during the term. Thus, I sought advice from friends on coping with the cold seasons and compiled them here.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
“Just make sure you aren’t alone. Spending time with people helps.”
Self-isolation and mental health issues are a vicious cycle. As an introvert myself, I understand the difficulty of putting yourself out there and purposefully interacting with others especially when social events are not your cup of tea. However, I found that simple hellos with your classmates or flatmates can be mood-lifting. Alternatively, you can work in a public area such as libraries surrounded by others. Take the time to also do video calls with friends and family back home to soothe the loneliness and homesickness.
“Vitamin D tablets! Take them with oil/fat otherwise it’s not effective.”
It is easy to skip meals when you are busy catching up with deadlines. Not to mention, you might not realise you are doing so due to lowered appetite from stress or the seasonal changes. Adequate nutrition is important to ensure you have the energy and good mood to carry out your day-to-day activities well. For those who are taking supplements or medications, this is a reminder to not skip them too. In addition, hydration is key and thus do remember to drink plenty of water. Prevention is better than cure, and it’s always worth remembering that it’s better to not skimp on what you consume rather than getting sick later!
Get Fresh Air and Sun
“Going out to get fresh air really helps! Even if it’s cold, schedule time to be in nature.”
It’s tempting to want to hibernate in the comfort under the warm blankets in your stuffy room when it’s cold outside. This is a trap that might leave you not stepping out of your bed for days which is unhealthy. There is a reason why light therapy is an often sought way to feel better among those who experienced winter depression. For those new to London and the UK and will be here for a limited amount of time, take this chance to go sightseeing around London and outside, with plenty of free options available and are indoors to protect you from the chill.
Sweat It Out
“Have a proper workout or exercise routine.”
Exercise promotes the release of chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins which are responsible for creating the “feel-good” factor. Whilst I might be a couch potato myself and have little to say on this, I do notice people having a happy and satisfied glow around them post-workout. If you’re not a fan of high intensity activities, consider joining the weekly yoga sessions located across various LSE student accommodations.
Seek Professional Help
And finally, if you need extra support, there is no shame in reaching out for professional help and utilise the available resources for LSE students. These include LSE’s Wellbeing Advisors and Counsellors, chatting with peer supporters or joining the available support groups by the Student Wellbeing Services. In terms of your academic program, you may also apply for Central Exam Adjustments (CEA) for adjustments during the exam period, or register with the Disability and Mental Health Service whereby adjustments can be made to support your teaching and learning experience. Remember, just because you can carry it alone doesn’t mean you should.
These tips may be carried over throughout the year. Remember that these are just general suggestions from fellow students and not professionals. Everyone copes differently, for example some might benefit from religious support or music. In any case, self-care and self-compassion are key in your journey as an LSE student.
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