Weather and our mood: learning to cope 

Photo by Darien Funk

Canada’s wicked weather can have more than just an impact on our mood – it can change the trajectory of a student’s success in many negative ways. 

From smoldering summers to what feels like almost unbearable winters, we live in a weather-extreme country. 

 The good thing about predictable patterns is that these environmental indicators can help us determine what students struggle with before they start – so we can address them appropriately.  

Prevention is the best medicine.

Season fluctuations affect more than just our immediate environments.  

Changes in our environment demand adjustments in our circadian rhythms that can be attributed to sleep schedule disruptions, out-of-whack energy levels and shifts in mood.  

While attending university presents considerable change for most, seasonal changes can exacerbate stress management and hinder academic success.  

Changes in levels of melatonin throughout the body can amplify feelings of anxiety and poor performance. 

 Ultimately, a portion of the Canadian population face the realities of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), some without realizing it.  

Although it may be a burden, there are many ways we can alleviate the symptoms.  

Even those who do not suffer from SAD can benefit.  

Although SAD can be contentious, I believe many can agree that partaking in endeavors that benefit the mind, body and soul can help maintain the multifaceted system that is the human body.  

I know I function better when I am paying attention to both my mental and physical health. 

Thankfully, getting through the colder seasons doesn’t always require something extraordinary to counteract the effects of dreary days and prolonged nights.   

Remaining active is key.  

I would argue spending time with friends while keeping active is even better.  

Attending Laurier’s group sessions at the gym can help motivate students to keep active and mentally engaged.  

Movement is key to promoting the body to produce functional levels of serotonin and dopamine.  

In addition, the lesser known but equally important hormone norepinephrine plays a significant role in mood enhancement and proper digestion.  

This hormone increases the benefits that come from keeping active as well.  

Making the most out of sunlight can mean waking up early and going to sleep earlier, helping cut back on the amount of time spent in darkness.  

Ensuring that we stay close to our community helps ease the winter blues and makes getting through the workday more manageable.  

Striving to get some sunlight would be optimal, but supplementing with Vitamin D can help replenish the body.  

Prioritize your diet.  

Eating foods rich in antioxidants (such as blueberries) and healthy fats (such as avocados) can help improve mood and subsequently help with stress. 

 Diet plays an incredibly important role in ensuring that our vitals are ready to undergo physiological changes.  

Increasing education in mind and body wellness helps us avoid future complications or heal from previous struggles.  

It is important to ensure that we are accommodating our body’s needs and not just our schedules according to the environmental factors occurring outside of our control.  

By understanding the mechanisms of the human body, we are setting ourselves up for success in multiple areas of our daily lives – from the workplace to the school environment. 

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