Winter blues and students’ mental health

Attending a university in the South, many Panthers feel like they thrive in Georgia’s long-term warm weather. Unfortunately, when winter hits, it can hit hard and affect students’ mental health.

Winter blues refers to sadness or depression associated with the winter months and can result in seasonal depression. With all the changes of 2020, winter for many of us will look very different from the past. 

Some of the peril of winter blues could be soothed by spending holidays with friends and family and participating in winter activities. This year, many students no longer have those opportunities to brighten the darker season. Among these many students is senior Jessica James.

“I’m upset that I won’t be able to see my family in New York this year for the holidays because of the newly imposed travel restrictions and their spike in cases,” James said. “I haven’t been able to see them for a year, and I was looking forward to it.”

With the spike of one million new coronavirus cases within the first ten days of November, many people feel helpless and overwhelmed. Since this year is different, that means the way that some who would typically deal with winter blues will have to be different, including the change in holiday events. Among the students that realize this is Anushka Patel. 

“Everything has just been up in the air for so long. It’s nerve-wracking to not know what to expect,” Patel said. “I am excited about the holidays, but I just don’t know what to make of them for this year.”

The prevalence of depression in young adults in the United States has quadrupled compared to the pre-COVID period. Georgia State provides multiple resources to help students get through seasonal depression.

Unfortunately, it will be more challenging to find safe ways to interact with others as the temperatures drop. Spending time with friends is more uncomfortable in an outdoor environment than in the summer due to plummeting temperatures. Student Angelina Pazmino is worried about the transition and how it could impact her.

“During the summer, I was able to go to parks, go on walks, and have picnics with my friends to be able to see them safely,” Pazmino said. “But now that it’s getting colder, we won’t be able to do some of those easy things anymore, and I’m just looking for things we can do together to replace that.” 

A few tips for how to still hang with friends safely can include bonfires, outdoor marshmallow roasting, getting warm drinks outside, looking at Christmas lights, decorating and many more activities as the holidays approach. Luckily, Georgia typically has mild winters, so many will be able to be with friends in an outdoor environment for a while longer before it gets too cold.

As the winter inevitably approaches, remember that safe adjustment is possible, and the winter blues will not last forever.