Winter Blues

Dear Bearcats,

Having been a New Englander for most of my life, I can truthfully say that the phrase “Winter is coming” carries great weight in this part of the country. The winter season up here can be brutal, and even the most seasoned among us can develop a case of the winter blues. Here are some strategies that have helped me year after year and I am certain they will help you, too.

Staying physically active is a cornerstone of lifelong health and it is one of the best ways to elevate your mood and overall sense of well-being. Aerobic exercise for 30 minutes or more, several times a week, will raise your brain’s levels of serotonin and dopamine (also known as your brain’s “feel good” neurotransmitters). The more active you stay, the better!

Eat well
It is simple – if you eat poorly, you will feel poorly, regardless of what season it is. As a general rule, the fewer processed foods you eat, the better you will feel. Try sticking to as many whole foods as you can: whole grains, fruits, veggies, etc. From what I remember, the Hotchkiss Dining Hall is never short on a variety of healthy and nutritious options.

Get enough sleep
There is absolutely no area in your life that will not improve if you get adequate sleep, and 7-9 hours is what a healthy adult needs to function optimally. Proper time management and committing to a regular bedtime is key. Also, it is helpful to have a pre-bedtime routine to let your body and brain know that it needs to shift gears. Get away from screens and unwind with a cup of herbal tea, take a hot shower, or do anything else that helps you relax your body and mind 30-60 minutes before hitting the hay.

Make time to laugh
Sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine, so make time every day to allow yourself a good laugh. Don’t wait until you are feeling down! Spend time with a funny friend, watch reruns of your favorite sitcom or comedy, listen to good stand-up, or, do as I do, and seek out the funniest YouTube videos you can find.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Shortly after graduating from Yale Law School, Gretchen left behind her law career to pursue another: researching and writing about happiness and good habits. Gretchen is an expert on the science of happiness. I discovered her work several years ago amidst my own battle with seasonal depression and the tactics, techniques, and happiness-hacks she teaches are life-changing! You can listen to her podcasts and learn more by clicking the link to her website below.

The important thing to remember when the cold and dark of winter starts to get under your skin is that it will not last forever. The sun will come out again! Even when it does, make sure you keep doing all of the above. One of the best investments you can make towards success is creating and maintaining a good self-care regimen. So, take good care of yourselves, because you are the future! Here’s hoping you feel a little less blue.

Yours truly,
Brother Bearcat ‘07