Ease Your Winter Blues


Man standing in the road in winter.

Did you know the winter blues is actually real? It is a psychological condition due to the changing seasons mostly effecting people in the northern hemisphere where there isn’t a lot of sunlight in the fall and winter. The correct name is Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Recently, Dr. Crystal Hendrick, Psychology Instructor at Bay College, filled us in on what students can do to help themselves during the fall and winter months.

Dr. Hendrick shared what students can be struggling with, “They start to have symptoms of depression due to the season. Some of these symptoms include sleeping too much, difficulty concentrating, low energy, and not participating in activities they used to find fun and engaging.” Many people experience SAD because there is a disruption in the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and serotonin which regulates the feelings of well-being and happiness. “Research says exposure to sunlight helps the serotonin pathway neurotransmitters which helps regulate mood for students. Students can especially be affected because the few hours of they do get sunlight,” Dr. Hendrick shared. 

Bay College West Campus currently has two sunlamps located on campus. These sunlamps offer full spectrum lighting to allow the benefits of sunlight many people are missing due to shortened daylight.  Dr. Hendrick stated, “These sunlamps are particularly effective in allowing Vitamin D absorption which helps with the production of serotonin. Even sitting in front of them for 10-15 minutes can be helpful. It is quite effective in doing it daily, but can work if a student just needs an extra boost.” Dr. Hendrick shared some alternatives if a student doesn’t have access to a sun lamp, “Even if a student can get outside and walk for as little as 15 minutes, or sit by the window if the sun is shining through. We also know yoga, guided meditation and mindfulness meditation can be extremely helpful for students.” Although any type of physical exercise, meditation, and breathing exercises are helpful in combating the effects of SAD, Dr. Hendrick added, “it is very important to eat a healthy well-balanced diet including leafy greens, fruits and vegetables.”

SAD isn’t something to brush off, there are several low or no cost options for students. There is free and confidential mental health counseling available on the West Campus with Mark Young, a licensed therapist. Students should contact Mark Young at 906-776-4357 to set up an appointment.

There are also many local resources students can access for additional help. Here are a few suggestions: 1.) Full Moon Rising is a Wellness Studio in Norway which offers services and classes designed to help in physical, emotional, and spiritual growth and development for children and adults. Services include Therapeutic Massage, Somatic Bodywork, Craniosacral Therapy, Yoga and Meditation Instruction. 2.) True North strives to offer the safest, most high quality U.P. outdoor experience. 3.) The Keyes Peak Ski Hill provides downhill skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing opportunities. There are so many ways to stay active and get outdoors in our local area. 4.) Pine Mountain Ski Resort includes ski slopes, ski jump, snowboarding trails, an indoor pool, a hot tub and a sauna.