Winter Wellness

By now I’m sure the anticipation and excitement of returning to campus after winter break are starting to dim a little.  You looked forward to reconnecting with your friends, getting used to new classes and professors, and engaging in your campus activities.  Now that we are a few weeks in, hopefully, you are settling into the routine and rhythm of the spring semester. With that, however, comes the hard part, getting through the toughest part of the winter!  Once the novelty of getting back to life on campus wears off, comes the work of dealing with the ongoing snow, cold and mostly gray skies! That 63° day a couple of weeks ago must’ve felt like a tease but keep in mind that the days are getting longer and before you know it, spring will be here!

So how can we make the best of this less than ideal time of year as we wait for the first signs of spring? The first thing we can do is think about managing it in small amounts.  We know that winter in Syracuse can stretch into April so let’s think about what we can do for the next few weeks rather than looking at the long haul! Set short goals such as planning out until spring break rather than projecting all the way to April.

One of the best ways to manage this is to make sure you are taking care of yourself physically.  Hibernation weather lends itself to being sluggish and unmotivated so how can we keep from crawling under the covers and binging on pizza and Netflix.  Keeping our mood elevated starts with basic good nutrition: balance carbs, carbohydrates, and fats…you need them all for optimal brain health…and don’t forget your water…aim to drink half your weight in ounces to keep hydrated on a cellular level.  Sleep is just as important. An occasional nap is fine, but regular napping can negatively affect your sleep at night. We need solid REM sleep to help filter toxins out of brains during the night. Eating well and getting good sleep will also boost your immune system and leave you better able to fight off all the germs circulating in your residence hall.  We all know that having to walk around in freezing temperatures and snow with a nasty cold can be miserable! Another wintertime adage is if you can’t beat them, join them. This means engaging in winter activities such as skiing, sledding, snowboarding, and snowshoeing (you can borrow some from the Recreation Center! Even just walking around campus or at a local park with trails…think Green Lakes or the Erie Canal…can help you get your daily dosage of Vitamin D which is necessary to keep our moods even.  Stay productive with your academics by planning out your work and minimizing procrastination. This weather is definitely conducive to staying indoors and studying! Lastly, engage in fun activities and stay connected to others socially to minimize boredom and increase levels of oxytocin, a hormone that can create feelings of calm and closeness and that also helps counteract cortisol, the stress hormone. Following this wellness plan will keep you feeling good physically, mentally and emotionally, and ready for spring break when it gets here!