Do not expect to be happy during the darkest time of the year. Lower your demands and prioritize your friends. The psychologist of the Student Health Centre (Studenthälsan) gives ten pieces of advice to make you feel better mentally during winter.
By: Tindra Englund, Translated by: Cecilia Eriksson
Ulrika Linse Strömland works as a psychologist at the Student Health Centre in Lund, and every day she meets students who suffer from mental health issues. A lot of people find themselves feeling increasingly down when the days grow shorter and darker. Here is her list of positive things to keep in mind:
- Make sure that you keep your circadian rhythm regulated even though the darkness makes it harder the get up in the morning. If you sleep in, you will have a harder time falling asleep at night which could affect the entire following day.
- If you have a hard time falling asleep, make sure you turn off the screens on all of your devices one hour before bedtime.
- If you are feeling unwell, try reaching out for support. And even if you are feeling tired and unmotivated, try to stay in contact with family and friends.
- Try exposing yourself to light as much as possible. Go outside, even on a cloudy day, and make sure you have a lot of light indoors. Light colors on the walls and a white oilcloth can help, since it reflects the light. Sit next to a window as you study to absorb the light.
- Stay active. Take walks/work out.
- Find things to look forward to that can light up the long darkness of winter.
- Mind what you eat. You can also supplement your diet by adding vitamin D. Some studies show that vitamin D has a positive effect on both your brain and your mood and during winter a lot of people suffer from a vitamin D deficiency.
- Be cautious when it comes to alcohol. A lot of the time, students use alcohol as a means of dealing with difficult emotions which only makes them feel worse.
- Try finding a balance between studying and your spare time as a way of dealing with stress. Too much stress during longer periods of time can be a cause for declining mental health.
- Lower your demands and expectations. Remind yourself that the season of darkness is temporary!