Moving away from sunny days to long winter nights is more than just trading in your shorts and tank tops for an oversized hoodie and some workout leggings—it’s often the time your daily mood is affected. Many students in high school and college experience a case of the “winter blues,” when the colder months have you feeling down, less motivated, and exhausted. If this sounds familiar, know that you’re not alone. There are also more serious cases of the winter blues known as a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), often referred to unofficially as seasonal depression. On top of feeling down, SAD can have you feeling depressed most of the day and cause social withdrawal. Whether your classes are in person or virtual, here are three activities to help you overcome the winter blues this semester.
1. Movement and mindfulness jar
As a student, you carry a heavy load of classes, part-time jobs, and homework while also trying to maintain a social life. While getting some rest may be at the top of your priority list, it’s also important to implement regular body movement and exercise to improve your mood and lessen depression symptoms. This allows your brain and body to de-stress.
For this activity, begin with an empty jar. Print out the activity slips and place them in the jar. These activities are designed to be mood boosters for when you need them. There are also a few blank slips for you to add your own ideas as well, because we all have different things that make us happy. Fill your jar with all the slips, and when you need a mood booster, pull out an activity from the jar and do it. There are even some activities that can involve your friends, like rounding up a group to pick up a game of your favorite sport, plus other activities just about you, including meditation, positive self-talk, and exercises to help you stay active like yoga. As you make this a regular habit, be mindful of the activities you do day-to-day and how they make you feel.
2. Monthly mood tracker
Tracking your mood allows you to be more mindful of what activities or situations boost your energy and gives insight into what triggers your negative moods. Begin with printing out the mood tracker, then choose a color to associate with each mood. Use that color with the corresponding box for every day of the month. Each morning, check in with yourself and determine how you’re feeling at the moment. For example, if you wake up feeling depressed and sad, you may choose to color that corresponding box blue. Come back at the end of the day and do another check-in. Maybe you did some mindful activities throughout the day, and now you’re feeling happy and joyful, so you choose to color in the corresponding box yellow. You can use the second page of the mood tracker to log the activities you did that boosted or negatively affected your mood.
3. Affirmation coloring page
Positive affirmations help you gain confidence when facing obstacles that come your way during your high school and college career. This will put you in a positive mindset, allowing you to eliminate negative thoughts. “I am confident” or “I am strong” are both examples of affirmations. Repeat your affirmations aloud and as you repeat them, let your mind peacefully wander and color what you’re feeling. Studies have shown that coloring can help improve one’s mood, stress levels, and ability to relax, so print out some sheets and enjoy this easy and free form of art therapy when you’re having a stressful day.
Downloadables courtesy of adidas
The roller coaster of high school and college really does have the ability to cause your mood to shift, especially during winter semester. So when those colder months settle in, take extra precautions by downloading these activities to help you overcome the blues. Spring will be here before we know it; you just have to power through a little longer!
If you’re feeling down, check out the “fun” tag on CollegeXpress to explore more content that will make you smile and give you ideas for other activities!