Beating the Winter Blues

Denyse is from Malta and on that nice, warm island the winters are different than in Holland. Luckily, she can give us some tips on overcoming the winter blues.

Posted by Denyse Degiorgio - Student Ambassador - International Institute of Social Studies at Feb 18, 2019 01:12 PM

Now that winter is well underway (and the countdown to spring is ever shorter), what are you doing to beat that post-January slump? Most of us have heard of or personally experienced winter blues whether in the form of apathy, procrastination, mood swings, lack of focus, insomnia or heightened fatigue in general. Personally, after several simultaneous gray drays it sometimes feels to me like the Netherlands is being stifled by one giant cloud…only to be surprised with blue skies and the sun playing hide-and-seek a few days later! But let’s turn this post into a more positive one. Here are my tips, most of which have been tried and tested, for getting out of your gray funk:

  1. The usual, somewhat cliché, “distract yourself” – How many times have we read about getting involved, volunteering, taking up or rediscovering a hobby, being proactive and hitting the gym, so on and so forth? Although it may not be the most helpful advice for some, it has worked for others. If you can find something that brings you joy, even if just for a short period of time, during which you forget those cloudy skies, then make a commitment to both the activity and yourself that whatever the weather, you will keep doing that one thing on a regular basis.
  2. Be responsible for your own motivation – Let’s face it: if we were to live our lives based on whether or not we really felt like doing something, we wouldn’t get much done. Unfortunately, light bulbs are not constantly dinging in our heads, nor are we blessed with a semi-permanent state of inspiration. Don’t sit around waiting for something to happen, just give in to your (positive) impulses and push yourself to act! Starting something is always one step forward and although it might not last in the long-run, it’s better than just having sat around and thought about what could have been. Remember, a habit takes at least 31 days to establish.
  3. Send yourself away – Ok, so this might not be the most financially viable option and is highly dependent on your personal spending habits but maybe all you need is a quick weekend getaway to a (not necessarily so distant) golden coast. Do your research, look into the many student travel deals and companies and consider a break involving a change of air and scenery. As part of mainland Europe, many of the Netherlands’ neighbors are easily accessible and culturally different meaning that you can plunge yourself into a new world in a matter of hours.
  4. Vent (euphemism for COMPLAIN!) – Gather a group of similar weather cynics and let off some steam (after all, what are friends for?) Sometimes just talking about the issue and comparing stories or experiences is helpful in itself. We’re all a little guilty of feeling like life is dealing us the wrong cards at times…
  5. Sleep it off – When all else fails, attempt to embark on hibernation, as is practiced by many in the animal kingdom (I’ve always wondered, why can’t humans do the same?) Jokes aside, a few nights of good rest are crucial for students and their mental well being. Don’t shy away from actually cancelling plans if your mind and body are tired, but in equal measure, don’t entertain regretful thoughts for having ‘missed out’.

Bonus Tip: Study material: not ideal for a deadline-pressed student but consider picking up a few books or looking up some articles and videos (TED Talks, even documentaries) related to Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) Health professionals have recommended everything from Vitamin D supplements, to light therapy, to freshening up your diet and drinking herbal teas before bed. Moreover, people across the world may have their own inspiring ‘remedies’ to cure the blues and different things work for different people.

What’s your tactic? Here’s to many future blue skies and sunny afternoons!

Posted by Denyse Degiorgio - Student Ambassador - International Institute of Social Studies at Feb 18, 2019 01:12 PM