Surviving second semester and the second wave of COVID-19

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After a well-deserved extended break, Golden Hawks returned to their virtual classrooms on Monday amongst stricter lockdown policies throughout Ontario. This term will pose the Laurier community with new challenges as it battles computer burnout from virtual schooling and harsher weather. 

Three weeks off from the normal routines of school was much needed but may have left some feeling unmotivated to participate in class, complete assignments or to engage in social activities that follow COVID-19 safety regulations. The longer and colder winter nights also affect one’s motivation. 

This time of year tends to bring the ‘winter blues’ and more rarely by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which, according to Mayo Clinic, is a type of depression that is triggered in the winter months and ends with the spring and summer months. SAD can be identified by feeling depressed most days, oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain and low energy.

The winter blues are relatively common, with 15 per cent of the Canadian population experiencing it every winter, while SAD (the more severe of the two) is felt by 2 to 3 per cent of the population according to statistics published by the Canadian Mental Health Association. 

The exact cause of SAD remains unknown, however there are factors that may affect it. The Mayo Clinic attributed the reduced levels of day light in fall and winter, a drop in serotonin levels and a change in the levels of melatonin as those factors. 

The reduced sunlight of the winter months can disrupt one’s internal clock which can provoke a reduction of serotonin levels that can lead to feelings of depression. It is important not to ignore the ‘winter blues,’ as early detection can allow one to take steps that can help boost your mood and motivation in the winter months.  

This is easier said than done as often times people can feel overwhelmed when beginning to take action to change one’s outlook as they do not know where to start. 

Here are some ways to find motivation for school work, to be active and to stay social. 

After completing the fall term remotely many students may be feeling burnout from constant screen time and may even find it difficult to throw themselves back into the chaotic daily routine of online schooling.

Try make a checklist of things you want to accomplish or set goals. This can be done at the beginning of each month, week or day, depending on personal preference that puts you in the best position to reach those tasks or goals. These can be small or large as it is meant to remind yourself that you can accomplish the things you strive for.  

Make sure to reward yourself for completing your tasks or goals, or after a hard day. When living through such unprecedented times, it is important to acknowledge the little victories in daily life encourage positive thinking. 

Activities are often limited in the winter due to poor weather conditions and limited daylight however, this winter is faced with the additional barriers of strict lockdowns and safety regulations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The worsening second wave of COVID-19 in Ontario has brought heavy safety measures, such as the closure of all nonessential businesses, including gyms and limiting gatherings to five people indoors. These strong safety regulations, although necessary do not provide an opportunity for normal activities, as many are confined to their homes. 

Yoga is a great activity to take up as it requires no equipment and sessions can be found online for free. Yoga has both physical and mental benefits while also being low intensity, making yoga a perfect fit for winter pandemic activities. Low intensity activities such a yoga gently stretch and work the body to keep muscles strong and toned.

The winter blues often brings feelings of tiredness and want to watch Netflix over getting active or socializing. Getting social is an important factor of overcoming the winter blues, but with gatherings limited, being social is difficult. 

Many people are tired of seeing the Zoom screen all day, making calls with friends feel tedious or even like a job. Try switching it up, with Google Chrome extensions that allow you to stream movies and tv shows with your friends. This alleviates the pressure of continuing conversation with nothing to talk about while still being in the company of your friends.

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