Self-Care Tips for the Winter Blues

Self-Care Tips for the Winter Blues

As the “spring” semester has begun and the weather is only getting colder in Ithaca, I can’t help but notice how drastic the weather has changed. It is no longer sunny and bright on the outside; rather, there is no light to be seen at just about 5:00 p.m. It is that time of the year again-- when you don’t feel like doing anything; when all you want to do is to crawl back in your bed and watch some more Netflix. As the snow falls ruthlessly, the harsh, cold winds have reminded me how difficult it would be to perform things I can normally do easily, such as getting out of bed in the morning, and how much I miss my tropical homeland. While there is no easy answer to cope with the winter blues, I have complied a list of things that I have tried to do to brighten my mood. The advice seems very straightforward, but remember to be mindful of doing them in order to achieve the best result. I hope these self-care tips will help you to stay strong during the winter here!

1. Cultivate gratitude

This is probably the most important advice on the list. I cannot stress how important it is to constantly reflect on your day and to be grateful of every little thing that happened. As a hotelie, it is almost my second nature to reflect on my behaviors and seek ways to support others. No matter how I am feeling, I always try to find little things to be grateful of. I also have the habit of recording important and happy things in my diary so I could read them to feel better later on.

2. Encourage and spread positivity

This can be easily done from writing a sweet note to your friends, baking cookies for your floor mates, to spreading your positivity to others. I write poetry occasionally as a way to channel my feelings and inner thoughts. Other ways you can spread positivity are: Give a compliment to a stranger. Help open the doors for others. Take the time to organize your room. Really, it is the little things that matter.

3. Find inner solace, seek peace

This one is a little harder to practice because solace can be subjective. While some find happiness and peace in the crowd, others find it in solitude. When I need to find peace, I usually try to relax, mediate, and listen to soft music in the room. This technique is especially helpful when I need to make an important decision. I usually clear my head in order to see the bigger picture and stay on track.

4. Keep an open mind about making new friends (every day!)

Making friends, leaving friends (temporarily), and making some more again is something that I have been doing my entire life. As an international student, I have become really open to meeting new people and adjusting to different environments. During my first semester at Cornell, I have made many good friends from being actively involved with cultural clubs, business associations, and the badminton team. Most of my friends come from different backgrounds and one of them is even twice my age! Although it might be intimidating to reach out to others, remember that you have to be open to see open. By revealing your vulnerability to others, you can cultivate inner strength. During the winter months, it will be harder to socialize but make sure you put in the effort to stay connected with your close friends-- even watching movies and eating hot pot together at the dorms count!

5. Exercise

Not only does exercise improve your mood, but also teaches your communication and team-work skills. When you are playing a sport, you learn how to work with others in order to achieve a common goal. You learn to negotiate and persuade them to see things from your point of view. You learn to focus on the team and become a part of something bigger than yourself and it motivates you to be a better person. On days when I just feel down, I play badminton to recharge and stay energized.

6. Know what is best for you

At the end of the day, you know yourself the best so listen to your body and give what it needs the most. Whether that is sleep, love, or just some time to recharge. Sometimes the body can feel like it does not want to do anything, so give it time. Prioritize things that are the most important to you. From time to time, remember to call your family to connect with them and know that they are always there to help.

7. Seek Help If Necessary

If things become serious, don’t hesitate to speak up and seek help. Cornell has many resources where you can seek counselling, therapy, and medications. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is quite prevalent in the winter and I would recommend talking to your friends, family, or a doctor if the symptoms continue. Doing light therapy could also help to stay energized. And last but not least, remember that health comes first. Take care of yourself and know there are always people who are more than willing to listen to you and support you. Life can be hard when you are trying to find a balance between academics, clubs & activities, and a social life, all at the same time. If Ithaca’s winter has taught me anything, it’s that it makes us a stronger and tighter community. Talk to others. It’s the way through.

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© 2020 by Nicholas Lu, Moira Yi, Jacqueline Chen & AJ Mackey

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