Self-Care for Every Season
by Akhila Penumaka
Whether this is your first semester in Boston or your last, you know by now that Boston’s weather is anything but consistent. It’s wonderful to be able to experience all four seasons in a single academic year at BU, but each season comes with its own challenges. Here is a list of what the seasons can do to your physical and mental health, with tips on how to cope with it!
Almost everyone loves this time of year. The leaves are shades of orange and you always have a pumpkin spice latte in hand. Your life is full of possibilities! But as you step out in your gingham miniskirt and thigh high stockings, you squint—the sun seems to have almost entirely disappeared. And, you’re right: The sunny days that you were so used to during the summer have been replaced with cloudy skies and cold winds.
The lack of sunlight leads to lower levels of serotonin, the chemical in the body associated with mood, sleep and hunger. As a result, you could be feeling depressed, anxious, lazy and irritable—something a lot of doctors group under the term “Autumn Anxiety.” But, the good news is that you can combat your Autumn Anxiety with just a few changes to your lifestyle:
Exercise More: Because of the colder weather, we may not be as inclined to go out as we were during the summer. But, it’s important to go out and get some fresh air to combat your lethargy.
Get More Sunlight: Higher levels of vitamin D will lead to higher levels of serotonin, which will greatly improve your mood and sleep schedule.
Start New Activities and Find New Hobbies: The end of summer will end up making you feel restless, so it’s important to pick up new activities to help yourself stay busy!
Winter blues are real, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is even more real. SAD is a type of depression that’s related to a change in seasons, often beginning sometime during the end of fall and the beginning of winter. The symptoms of SAD include feeling depressed throughout the day, oversleeping, low energy, weight gain and sluggishness. Symptoms may be milder in the beginning months of winter and worsen as the year turns and can vary in severity from person to person. Some ways to battle SAD are:
Maintain a Healthy Diet: Overeating or drinking excessively are two ways that many people unknowingly use to cope with SAD, but keeping a check on what you eat can greatly help both your body and your mind get through those harsh winter months.
Exercise More: Similar to Autumn Anxiety, one of the best ways to battle SAD is to take time to exercise. Exercising will help release “feel good” chemicals in your body, such as dopamine and serotonin, which instantly improve your mood.
Stay Connected with Loved Ones: Sometimes it’s hard to keep in touch with your loved ones, but talking to them regularly will ease symptoms of SAD or depression.
Spring and Summer
With spring and summer come warmer and longer days, so you may generally see an increase in positive feelings. But, this period of time can be tricky for some because SAD can affect people in the summer instead of the winter. During these seasons, it’s important to remember to drink plenty of water and not overexert yourself. If you’re unsure about whether your bad mood is something fleeting or something more serious, it’s always better to seek professional help.
The changing of the seasons is one of the most beautiful things to witness. But, since we’re all human, it’s important to take care of ourselves, no matter the season!