Overcoming the winter blues

Between COVID and wintertime, students are struggling with their mental health more than ever. Here are some tips and tricks on how to handle that!

Graphic by Emma Liu ’22/Staff

As the dark winter drags on, maintaining positive mental health is increasingly difficult. This time of year tends to bring gloom to students, and days during the pandemic seem to drag on in the same routine. According to a study from The University of Dallas, this season causes increased stress and anxiety, irritability, decreased energy, increased sleep, and changes in school performance. These effects, in combination with COVID-19, make it very difficult to achieve a solid mental state. While right now it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, there are ways for LM   students to seek help and improve their mental health.

One main way to boost mental health is to spend as much time in the sunlight as possible. The weather does range in the mid thirties and twenties, but going on quick walks or runs can make a huge difference. Emily Gilbert from Lumino health wrote, “When in nature, people may experience a more positive mood and better cognitive function. Memory improves, as does the ability to focus. Some people also experience a boost in creativity.” These effects are helpful during and after school hours. Gilbert continued, “lifting your mood and lowering anxiety are two ways being outdoors may be good for mental health.” Spending time outside is proven to boost mental health, whether alone or with friends.

Limiting time spent on social media is also known to improve mental health. However, those platforms are the primary ways for communication among teenagers during the pandemic. A healthy medium can be met between the two, and the constructive effects are evident. The nonprofit organization HelpGuide analyzed the positive outcomes of limiting social media use: “A 2018 University of Pennsylvania study found that reducing social media use to thirty minutes a day resulted in a significant reduction in levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, sleep problems, and fear of missing out.” The LM student body spends hours stuck on computers each day, but small changes in routines can provide much-needed positive outcomes.

There are many outlets for someone who needs help or someone to talk to. LM is fortunate enough to have several guidance counselors available to talk to students and provide help. Their email addresses can be found on the district’s website (lmsd.org). Additionally, talking to a trusted parent, guardian, sibling, friend, or teacher can make a difference and allow others to know how you are feeling. There are also various hotlines to call for many circumstances. Operators offer support on the other end of the line, and all information during the calls is kept confidential and anonymous. The website “The Youth Alliance” includes several mental health hotline numbers in one spot. It is easy to feel isolated and hopeless during our country’s difficult times, but remember that there are always people to turn to in the LM community.