As winter approaches, the skies darken, the air cools and the “winter blues” settle in.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), more commonly known as seasonal depression, is something many college students struggle with. About 5% of the U.S. population experience the disorder, according to Mental Health America.
This is a yearly occurrence, but with the current pandemic, dealing with it looks slightly different this year. Although there isn’t a definitive cure for SAD, there are some activities that can help ease the strain of seasonal depression.
Around Lawrence there are several ways to reduce the winter blues. There is something for everyone to enjoy during these times, and here is CHALK’s guide for activities to help combat the winter blues.
“I definitely think hand on creative projects can help,” says Cheryl Roth, owner of Sunfire Ceramics. “It’s fun creating and fun seeing what it turns into.”
Sunfire Ceramics is a pottery store just off Massachusetts Street at 1002 New Hampshire St. At this pottery shop, customers can buy, paint and fire pre-made pottery.
“I think it’s kind of like art therapy, sitting down doing a hands-on creative project,” Roth says. “To get away from sitting in front of the screen, which we are so used to right now.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, customers must either schedule an appointment to paint in-shop or go in to pick out their paints and pottery, then take their purchase home to paint and bring it back to get fired.
“[Pottery] can be useful because what they create can bring back happy memories when they use or see it later on,” Roth says. “I think a little exercise or nature therapy is good too.”
Another option to help with the winter blues is taking a trip to a yoga studio. Yellow Brick Yoga is a hot yoga studio that allows participants to exercise in a heated space during the cool winter.
“It’s a really good practice in general for noticing your mental tendencies and redirecting it into positive affirmations,” says Leanna Henning, co-owner of Yellow Brick Yoga.
Yellow Brick Yoga is located at 1410 Kasold Dr. and is accepting new customers by appointment on their website. They not only practice in a heated space, but also under an infrared light, which is a type of therapeutic technique.
“[Yoga] has that opportunity to drop thought and be in the physical. It’s not a fix-it but a practice,” Henning says. “We recommend going four times a week for transformation, or two times for maintenance.”
Some options that are closer to campus can be found at the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center, 1740 Watkins Center Dr. There are several “Fit Group Exercises” to choose from, ranging from kickboxing to dance party.
“Research shows that exercise boosts serotonin and endorphins, plus increased metabolism,” says Jill Urkoski, an American College of Sports Medicine certified exercise physiologist and the Rec's Associate Director of Programs and Staff Development. “Exercise also improves sleep, reduces anxiety and increases self-esteem.”
Students can visit their website to book a virtual appointment, purchase a KU Fit pass to attend in person classes or look at the fall semester schedule for classes.
“Sometimes it just takes getting [to Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center] or getting started, but after you are done you feel much better and are glad you did it,” Urkoski says.