By Melissa Morales
As finals week rolls into view and the end of this semester is fast approaching, many students around this time may begin to feel the “winter blues.” Despite the potential stress and anxiety from upcoming exams and projects due in the next two weeks, the thought of classes actually ending and not having that communication and productivity of working on assignments may hit hard for some.
Winter blues can be described as feeling more tired, anxious, and moody, which resemble the environment around us during the cold, dark winter months. Beyond just feeling down, many people experience a more severe form of winter blues, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year. Because of how common these forms of seasonal depression are, it is critical to remain engaged and productive during winter break. I don’t just mean with academic studies or employment, but also being productive creatively (which is just as, or even more important, during the winter season).
The first step in remaining productive and creative during the winter break is to stay connected. Even if it is done virtually through phone or video calls, it’s crucial to maintain a human connection with family and friends. Additionally, joining an online group catered toward a passion or interest is extremely beneficial. Being part of creative communities can lead to new friendships, connections, and the possibility of networking. Students should check out if any clubs cater to their interests and are still hosting activities during the break.
Another absolutely vital thing for everyone to do to remain engaged during winter break is to prioritize. Although this is always important, looking out for yourself is especially important during a time where some individuals tend to spend it alone or with a minimal number of people. Self-care not only involves physical health, but it is also important to maintain emotional, mental, and social health, which are all equally essential to take care of.
As winter blues may bring up new anxieties revolving around isolation or not having much to do, it becomes crucial to learn about one’s own needs and taking care of oneself like eating healthy, having a regular sleeping routine, doing a hobby you enjoy, and taking advantage of the days where the temperature gets above 50 degrees.
One way I found myself practicing self-care while also feeling productive and creative is by decorating or reorganizing my room. I know I get very creative and engaged when it comes to redecorating my room for different holidays; it always gets me more motivated as well. Incorporating bright lights, sun lamps, minimalist design, and even plants can be great ways to brighten up one’s mood. Similarly, many pets such as dogs, cats, birds, or guinea pigs are great for companionship for people of all ages, and in my opinion, they especially bring joy during the winter break where people can give them more attention.
Creating personal projects is an extremely productive and equally creative way to stay engaged beyond one’s own room. For someone like myself who is big on creativity, doing projects and artistic works like writing poetry, stories, and making short films are some things I look forward to doing this winter. These projects enable individuals to become self-starters and enhance the ability to do tasks on one’s own time. These things can be incredibly advantageous and possibly profitable too. Self-publishing books or submitting films and scripts to competitions, for example, could lead to positive outcomes for future businesses and careers.
Creative projects let individuals discover and learn new things, which provides more experience for future endeavors. While working on a passion project for a short film, I can learn about different editing software and specific systems through online tutorials; this can strengthen my skills and allow me to be creatively productive with a vision for entrepreneurship.
Being productive may have different meanings depending on the task at hand or the time of the year. But in the upcoming winter break, I encourage you to explore ways in which you can be both productive and creative as an important way of practicing self-care and pushing out the winter blues.