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You know the feeling: It's the dead of winter, the holidays are over, you're perpetually tired/freezing/unmotivated, and all you want to do is hide in your bed until spring.

Turns out you're not alone, and this feeling has a name. Aptly, it's called SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. SAD is a mood disorder characterized by depression and can range from mild to extreme. It's in large part due to the shorter days and lack of sunlight we experience in winter. (And even if your symptoms don't entirely fit the diagnostic criteria for SAD, there's no denying that the lack of sunshine can leave us all feeling a little crappy.)

But never fear: You don't need to wait until March to banish your case of the winter blues. Here are some small steps you can take to keep yourself going until then.

Make use of psychological services

Both Columbia and Barnard offer a wide variety of counseling services.

Barnard's Furman Counseling Center provides informational resources as well as counseling. You can make an appointment by dropping in or calling (212) 854-2092, or try out one of their group counseling options. You can also drop in to talk during walk-in hours (7-9:30 p.m. on Mondays in Plimpton and Thursdays in Elliott).

Columbia Counseling and Psychological Services offers similar resources, including short-term therapy and referrals for longer periods of counseling. Schedule an appointment by calling (212) 854-2878.

Get outside

Take a walk around campus, do your reading on a park bench on the Hudson in Riverside Park, or take an afternoon to explore the trails in Central Park. You'll get some blood flowing (exercise has been shown to boost your mood) and also get some exposure to sunlight.

Brighten up your surroundings

When short days, omnipresent cloud coverage, and busy schedules make it hard to go outside, focus on your own environment instead. Roll up the blinds in your room (natural light always feels so much better than the florescent bulb housing provides), sit near windows in Butler, and eat a meal or two outside when it's not too chilly.

Light therapy lamp

Still not enough light? Try a light therapy lamp, a lamp meant to mimic sunlight. Supposedly, it resets your circadian rhythms so that those 6 a.m. mornings don't feel so terrible anymore. With a doctor's approval use it for about half an hour when you wake up in the morning.

Find a wintertime hobby

Missing your summer activities? Instead of hiding from the cold and snow, embrace it. Go sledding or skating, or even upstate for a weekend of skiing. If you really hate the cold, try something new indoors: Pick up a book, knit a cozy scarf, or learn to cook a wintertime stew.

With these tips, hopefully your winter blues should drift away. And if not, spring will be here in just a couple of months.

Got any other tips for banishing the winter blues? Share them on Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Ishya Verma is a Spectrum staff writer. She firmly believes humans should hibernate through the winter. Reach her at if you agree.

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