6 Ways to Get Through the Binghamton Winter Blues

Posted by Nicole El Chami on February 25, 2022

We're taught when we're younger that the seasons change; when it's 7 a.m. and you have to manage fitting endless layers under your winter coat, you may tend to forget that it won't be long until the leaves reintroduce themselves to the trees on the beautiful Binghamton terrain. Although spring will be upon us before we know it, the cold weather has a tendency to make us feel winter will last forever.

You're not alone. This is the perfect formula to give anyone the winter blues. According to the Mayo Clinic, 44% of college students have reported having symptoms of depression and anxiety, while 91% reported moderate to high levels of stress. As a college student, these numbers may not be much of a shock when everyone you talk to is stressing about a test, a paper, or a presentation; no one seems to have it all figured out.

Aside from stress, depression, and the winter blues, there is another daylight savings demon to worry about: Seasonal Affective Disorder, or seasonal depression. Symptoms of SAD are usually consistent with symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, unexplained feelings of sadness, lack of motivation, sleep difficulty and changed eating patterns.

Whether you’re battling SAD or the winter blues, the emotions they bring you may feel incurable and unavoidable. However, we can all start feeling better before the weather warms up and we can walk along the Susquehanna in the sunshine again. Here is a short-list survival guide I’ve created after four years of battling the Binghamton winter blues.

Socialize, even when it’s hard

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After a long day I usually find myself wanting to isolate and decompress. However, it’s during these times that we benefit most by reaching out to friends and family. Socializing has proven to have lasting and significant positive effects on mental health. If you feel life is too hectic for a hangout, even grabbing a coffee with a friend and enjoying a study date can boost your mood. A good location to socialize out of the cold is in our Union Undergrounds Lounge! It's a great place to study, but you can also relax and play a game of bowling or pool with your friends, and grab a snack at the Food Co-Op! If you can’t find a study buddy, take a break to call a friend or family member you enjoy talking to, especially one who never fails to make you laugh!

Use your resources

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Sometimes your friends and family seem too biased to help you with how you’re feeling, and that’s okay. Try talking to a professional about your emotions. I know that may seem daunting, but getting your emotions out there to someone who is trained to listen truly can help. Binghamton Univeristy offers a wide variety of health and wellness resouces across campus ranging from individual counseling to the campus's SEEK program, a student-run helpline service.

Get some light, even if it isn’t from the sun

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Sunlight is scientifically proven to release endorphins and serotonin, hormones associated with a happier mood. Getting sunlight sounds easy enough, but when the temperature reads below freezing I barely want to leave for class, nevermind brave the cold for leisure. Luckily, there are artificial indoor options which can help you maintain your warmth while receiving the positive effects of sunlight! One popular option is light therapy, also known as phototherapy. To engage in light therapy, you can purchase a light therapy box for your room and position yourself next to it, whether you’re studying or just relaxing. Light therapy boxes can be found online, and the artificial light they produce has been proven to have positive effects aside from a boosted mood, such as better sleep patterns.

Release endorphins

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Endorphins are hormones released by the brain in response to pain or stress; they help us to release stress, relieve pain and increase our overall sense of well-being. Luckily, we don’t have to actually feel pain or stress to release endorphins, as there are so many natural options that can help us release this feel-good hormone. One main way to release endorphins is through exercise — take a walk if it isn’t too cold, head to the gym, or recruit a friend to join you in taking a yoga or spin class! The Recreation Center at the East Gym hosts a multitude of group fitness classes for varying skill levels: try kickboxing, or bodypump if you’re really trying to break a sweat! If you can’t bring yourself to work out, try meditation! Breathing deeply and focusing your brain on your breath can help to relax your mind and ease stress-related pain. If you don’t know where to start, there are so many different follow-along meditations on YouTube for beginners. Find one that works for you!   

Listen to a podcast

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I’ve recently gotten into listening to podcasts, especially those of in the “lifestyle” and “self-help” genres.  I’ve found that podcasts can act as a great form of escape whether you’re headed to class, the gym or even while cleaning your room. One podcast I highly recommend is The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos. Dr. Santos is a psychology professor at Yale who teaches her students the science of happiness, which her podcast aligns with perfectly. The Happiness Lab focuses on college students and what will actually make us happier and feeling more fulfilled in our lives – sadly the answer isn’t Netflix.  

Remember what you love

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When in college, it’s easy to lose sight of the hobbies that bring you joy. When you were younger did you make bracelets? Paint? Draw? Dance? Read? With assignment after assignment, college students often put their passions aside — it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. However, when you do find yourself with a few hours of free time, instead of isolating your options to watching a show or taking a nap, remember that thing you used to love and do it. 

Nicole El Chami is a senior majoring in English and she interns in the Office of Marketing and Communications at Binghamton University. She is excited to begin graduate school in the fall, where she will be working towards her career goal of becoming an English teacher. In her free time she loves making new playlists and going on walks with her dog.

Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? Email us at social@binghamton.edu.