For many, the upcoming winter months will conjure up ideas of cosy Netflix marathons, decorating the Christmas tree and soaking up the festive spirit. But, during ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, many of us will fall victim to the seasonal blues.
With no-one to keep a proper eye on you at university and little accountability for not getting out of bed for lectures, it’s easy to coop yourself up in your room all day come November as the darker days loom and the dreary weather persists. In my first winter here at Leeds, it wasn’t uncommon for me to have days where I would hibernate, miss lectures and go a whole day without speaking to anyone. But with careful preparation, you can make the seasonal blues more manageable; so keep these practical self-care tips in mind!
When your mind is suffering, it’s easy to neglect your physical health too. However, something simple like taking a walk in the daylight is invaluable – give yourself a change of scenery, fill your lungs with fresh air and boost your Vitamin D levels too. I know that in Yorkshire, a walk in the depths of winter may not be the most appealing thought; but even 10 minutes outside will help you feel refreshed. So, what are you waiting for? Ditch the lie-in, wrap yourself up and get outside.
Picture this: you’ve just got home from a stint in Eddy B, it’s pitch black (despite only being 4.30 pm), and you’ve opened the fridge door to see that all you have is half a cucumber and some mouldy yoghurt. We’ve all been there, so try giving future-you a break. Meal prep is a habit which is so easy to get into and will end up saving you time and money. By cooking in bulk and freezing portions, you’re making sure that on down days you still have a few meal options. It also gives you an evening activity to keep you busy. So, scout out some easy comfort food recipe ideas and get creative!
Plan to make the most of the festive atmosphere in Leeds by grabbing your friends and heading to the Christkindelmarkt and ice rink at Millennium square, Thor’s Tipi Bar on the Headrow or various art markets popping up across the city. Planning festive activities in advance means that if you’re having a blue day, you can look on your calendar and know that you have a fun break in your routine to look forward to soon.
Annoyingly, the seasonal blues often manifest themselves in the form of low motivation and little energy which, as university students with deadlines around Christmas, is less than ideal. On a daily basis, try to set yourself some achievable goals. Even if they are small tasks, they will help give you some direction and keep you on the right track. But, if you are struggling to keep up with your deadlines, reach out. You can speak to a tutor, a doctor, Leeds Nightline, or anyone you feel comfortable talking to. Sharing experiences with your friends can also help you to feel less alone- you might even find out they are feeling the same.
As for the really tough days, taking a step back for me-time is far from shameful. If you know these days happen a lot more for you in the winter, prepare yourself with a self-care box of treats to reach for. For me, that would be an assortment of cliché romance books (bonus points for festive ones), a hot water bottle, facemasks, chocolates and a notepad and pen to write down any thoughts.
If you’re finding things really difficult, speak to your doctor for more advice. However, it’s important to remember that the seasonal blues are temporary, and there are steps you can take to make winter as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.