There is substantial evidence which indicates that seasonal
changes can have a profound effect on mental health. There are many changes
that occur with the changing season: the length of daylight, the temperature,
the intensity of sunlight, our diet and our daily routine (how and where we
spend our time).
The onset of winter, in particular, is a time when many people struggle. Given the shorter days, the reduction in sunlight and the cold weather, it is common for people to feel down, tired, unmotivated and/or depleted. Those with pre-existing mental health conditions (such as depression and anxiety) may experience an exacerbation of symptoms at this time. Higher energy consumption means the financial strain of increased power bills, and many are experiencing heightened levels of stress as we head towards the end of the semester.
The following are some suggestions to help you manage your mental health during the change of season:
1) Ensure that you get adequate sleep (aim for 8 hours each night) and maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle
2) Incorporate opportunities for fresh air and daylight into your daily routine. Rug up and go for a walk at lunchtime, sit outside to eat your lunch, spend some time on the weekends outdoors in nature.
3) Give yourself permission to add to your ‘winter survival kit’. Think of what you might need to make yourself more comfortable this season – perhaps it’s time to invest in good quality, wind-resistant clothing, a durable umbrella, a new heater or an insulated travel mug.
4) Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, and be mindful of your diet as exercise and nutrition have an impact on mental health.
5) Identify the things you love about the season, and be intentional about incorporating these things into your life.
6) Most importantly – if you do find yourself struggling at this time, it is a good idea to talk to someone who can offer appropriate support.
To access free and confidential counselling and other support services, please contact Student Life. To make an appointment, simply visit the Student Life reception at Elgar campus (E3.G56) or call 9286 9891. You can also drop in and talk to the Student Wellbeing Officer at your campus.
For after-hours support, please refer to the following services:
Lifeline (free 24 hour counselling support) 13 11 14
Kids helpline (Counselling support for young people up to age 25) 1300 651 251
QLife (support for LGBTIQ+ community) 1800 184 527