Making sure the sunset doesn’t get you down. Photo: CC, Marvin Krause via US Air Force.
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Darker days don’t have to be dreary

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment guidance. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, call Good2Talk at 1-866-925-5454, or the Mental Health Helpline at 1-866-531-2600 for immediate support. For non-urgent support, you can access the Student Academic Success Service’s Counselling and Coaching service, or the UOHS mental health department.

As we approach the winter equinox, and the hours of light in the day become fewer, many people living in the northern hemisphere might have to battle Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Nicknamed wintertime blues or seasonal depression, and defined as a mood disorder where one exhibits depressive symptoms in the winter, SAD is frequently triggered this time of year—as the dark cold mornings get to many of us.

While we can’t offer you a definitive way to lessen the effects of SAD, the following four tips might help to provide an outlet to limit and express what you’re feeling.

Wake up early and keep a schedule

Though most U of O students’ sleeping patterns are usually irregular—especially during the lead-up to finals season—waking up early might seem like a clear road to sleep deprivation. However, when combined with maintaining a normal sleep schedule, getting up with the sun truly does wonders to your energy levels and mental health.

Instead of sleeping in, try getting active while the sun shines and provides rays of happiness, namely vitamin D—a nutrient that Canadians often lack this time of year. The added productivity might leave you with a sense of satisfaction and have you tired enough for an early bedtime after the sun has set.


Whether you’re looking to incorporate new activities or add an exercise routine to your morning, getting active may help you to stay positive during the depths of winter.

A number of events are held year-round by U of O health services, including yoga, meditation, and reiki—a form of alternative medicine that originated in Japan. Alternatively, if you’re looking to go off campus for other up-lifting activities, there is also an array of things that you can do off campus, including puppy yoga.


Chances are, you’re not alone if you’re feeling blue this time of year.

As the sun goes down earlier and earlier, people feel sapped of energy. This can also mean that you’re losing opportunities to socialize and bond with others. Try organizing a simple activity, like meeting up for coffee or trying a new fall activity—as simple as it sounds, interacting with family, friends, or even strangers might really be the pick-me-up you need.

Whether you’re extroverted and want to meet new people or introverted and keep to your limited social sphere, socialisation continues to be a healthy way to stay engaged.

Creative outlets

For inventive and creative minds alike—or even just for people who want to try something new—a creative outlet is a great way to channel one’s thoughts and feelings into a personal project.

Artistic mediums such as writing, drawing, painting, or music can help you deal with the overwhelming episodes brought about by seasonal depression. Afterall, portraying raw emotions is one of the strongest and most effective ways to create a powerful and poignant piece.

While a creative outlet can provide one with an enjoyable and expressive hobby, it can also help to better understand SAD and one’s mental health during the winter months.