Got the Winter Blues?

As you have probably noticed, the winter months can have a devastating effect on anyone’s ability to work. Some people may suffer from Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as the shorter days and colder temperatures cause seasonal depression. However according to the journal of ‘Social Psychological and Personality Science’ found that even people who do not have SAD are still affected by winter’s shorter days and colder weather. The Gryphon discusses ways to combat the winter blues.

The knock-on effect, for people with or without SAD, is a drop in happiness levels alongside a lowering of self-esteem. A study of 135 under graduate students in 2000 by the Studies for Higher Education Journal found that there was strong correlation between self-esteem and motivation. Whitehead and Corbyn (1997) found that someone with higher self-confidence in their ability to perform a task had higher levels of motivation; in short, self-esteem is key to staying motivated. The problem is that there is a clear link between the winter months and a lowering of people’s self-esteem, which is not ideal considering many students are settling back into the stresses of university life during the coldest and darkest days of winter.

Nevertheless there are ways to help you stay motivated during this busy time. It could be argued that with a lack of motivation comes increased procrastination. Key to avoiding this is to remove any contributing factors. If you use the Google chrome browser then you could install ‘Stay Focused’, an extension that blocks all the websites that you procrastinate on: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and so on. Another key way people procrastinate is though their phones. The easiest way to sidestep this issue is to put your phone on ‘flight mode’, though this might seem a bit extreme for some. Another simple way to increase self-motivation for work is to get out of the house and head to the library as there is a clear correlation between going to a library to work and increased productivity.

Despite your best intentions you might still find it hard to stay motivated throughout the winter months. If you cannot get yourself motivated, despite your best attempts, a good investment might be a SAD light. Everyone gets less sunlight in winter. A SAD light (contrary to its name) gives you a happiness boost. Simply put it on your desk whilst you work or watch TV and it will give you a boost. They can be picked up on amazon for less than £50 and even come in the form of alarm clocks that slowly light up the room rather than using a sudden bell noise. These have been shown to have many benefits not just to your mood but also in aiding sleep.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with winter blues and keeping motivated but trying to keep a high level of self-esteem will benefit motivation and time management during the busy times. Should you find it too hard to deal with any personal issues relating to self-esteem or otherwise, the university has a range of free and confidential services which you can access to try and help to work through any issues that you may encounter during the academic year.

Aaron Macarthy Beards


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