Welfare at Leeds: How to beat winter SADness

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Health and Wellbeing Intern Martha discusses the problems that the winter months can bring, and who you can turn to get advice.

The winter months can present us with pressures that impact on how well you feel able to cope with personal, academic and financial pressures. This is especially true in the build up to Christmas as the darker nights and colder days impact our mood, sometimes without us even realising.

These feelings can leave you feeling dejected and finding it harder to get assignments completed to the standard you would usually desire.
During these long, dark winter months many people can be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (commonly known as SAD). It is important to know that it is common for people to experience this condition and there are lots of options available to you. Light therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and simpler measures such as spending as much time in natural sunlight as possible and managing stress levels can all help improve your wellbeing whilst suffering from SAD.

These winter pressures can be particularly exacerbated at this stage of the academic year; as the long nights draw in, assignments are due and results are looming. It can feel like you have less and less time in the day as your pile of work gets higher. Your degree is a long process with lots of components, so if one aspect doesn’t go as you hoped this doesn’t mean you need to be unnecessarily harsh on yourself.

It is easy to get overwhelmed however, especially as financial pressures can increase as the Christmas season draws near, and the festivities and present buying begins. A recent BBC report warned of the dangers of online shopping, highlighting that those who struggle with insomnia are at risk from night time alerts sent out in the early hours of the morning.

This means that people already more vulnerable due to stress and anxiety are exposed to impulse buying when they are vulnerable and can experience financial loss, which in turn impacts negatively on their wellbeing. It is important to be prepared for extra expenditure over the Christmas season and make sure you budget for it. If you suffer from financial trouble remember that the Student Advice Service can always offer your help and support in a confidential environment.

It is always important to seek advice, on any of these issues, early. So who you can talk to? Services such as the Student Advice Centre, Skills@Library, your departmental Student Support Officer and personal tutor are always there to support you on a personal, academic and financial basis. It’s always best to get support sooner rather than later, don’t wait for the mark to come back or the exam to loom before you have a chat.

Don’t let this winter be filled with discontent, seek help if you need it from your doctors, University and Union on any of these various issues. Take advantage of the welfare services available to you during your time at Leeds; services who want to support and aid your wellbeing.

Martha Clowes

(Photo credit: http://forum.schoolofdragons.com/content/wolves-and-winter-norse-motif-analysis)

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