Beating those winter blues

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With the warmer weather of spring still a distant hope, Bea O'Kelly considers the effects that snow days and prolonged cold can have on our mental health, and how best to deal with them.

I’m just going to state the obvious; English weather has officially lost its marbles. Although currently I am looking out my flat window and the sun is shining and spring is peaking round the corners of the flats on Whiteladies, only yesterday, snow was hammering down the doors. That isn’t even an exaggeration; I could not open my front door due to the force of the snow storm outside.

When there isn’t a library to go to, or a gym within walking distance, and supermarkets still hadn’t restocked their supplies, there really was no way of getting out the house.

And even when its sunny, it’s not warm. But I guess that isn’t too far off what we’re used to! But it is safe to say spring has not sprung this year like it is supposed to near the end of march or early days of April, and I have to say I think it is affecting us weather-bound-English-folk more than we care to admit.

A prolonged winter, when said like that, doesn’t seem that bad. Cuddling up by a fire, drinking some Baileys hot chocolate with your partner/gals/doggos, movie nights and duvet days, F.R.I.E.N.D.S marathons because Netflix is a godsend, eating lots of cheese and red wine and lie ins without feeling guilty because you can’t possibly leave the house when there’s such hazardous conditions outside.

All of this sounds divine. And then there’s all the fun to be had in the snow! Such a novelty for those living in Bristol especially, sledging on Brandon Hill using Sainsbury’s bags for life. This is exactly the reason you’ve been saving so many plastic bags in a pile in the corner of your kitchen.

But then the third or fourth day arrives of being house bound. With the inclusion of the lecturers striking (will try not to digress into a rant here), suddenly the novelty of snow wears off. You are trapped in a house which is positively less cosy than your house at home, with limited heating, no fires and if your flatmates are anything like mine, plenty of washing up to be done from the consecutive days using all the cutlery possible without actually washing any up. Personally, I was really feeling the effects.

the weather and the strikes really are taking a toll on your wellbeing

When there isn’t a library to go to, or a gym within walking distance, and supermarkets still hadn’t restocked their supplies, there really was no way of getting out the house. I was so unmotivated to do anything.

I hadn’t exercised in over a week, I struggled through uni work with no help or places to study, skin care routine was out the window because what was the point when I wasn’t even leaving the house. Everything started to seem rather drab. And with the return of the snow over the last few days, all those negative thoughts have come flooding back. I need sun, and I need it now.

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I only really noticed in hindsight that it was the weather having such a negative impact. Once my routine slowly got back to normal everything started looking up; my skin was getting back to normal, gym sessions were going well, I completed one of my deadlines and met up with my dissertation tutor.

So this article is intended to be one of reassurance to anyone else who was feeling like that, and a pat on the back for anyone who might be feeling similarly now. Its ok to be getting down about things.

via GIPHY

Especially if you’re a finalist like me, and the weather and the strikes really are taking a toll on your wellbeing. In the hope to keep you all feeling positive during this dreary time of year, here are a few tips for anyone who needs them:

Force yourself to keep up a routine. Even if you have no lectures today, and no actual reason to leave the house, find one. Even if it’s just going for a walk to the shops, or going to Beacon House for a couple hours to catch up with some work or meeting a friend for a coffee at Parsons. Fresh air, even if its bitterly cold, helps.

let’s have something to get excited about to lessen the stress that is looming with the exam period

Make small plans, that usually you wouldn’t plan because they’re so casual, and really stick to them. For instance, my flatmates and I cooked a fat batch of lasagna and had a lovely flat lunch on Sunday. Even though something relatively small, it was really nice to do something as a house and it not be affected by the weather conditions or the situation at university.

Get some face masks! And lots of green tea. Use this time as a detox and use it well. Sort out that sleeping pattern, get eating some fruit and veg. Maybe even do a few days of veganism; I know this sounds extreme, but one of my close friends recommended it to me and just a few days of no dairy or meat and I felt so good about myself.

And finally, the classic, make some plans for summer. Even if you’re like me and don’t have the funds to actually book anything yet, get it in the diary so you can get saving! Let’s have something to get excited about to lessen the stress that is looming with the exam period.

Featured image: Flickr / smilla4


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