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How to survive the winter blues before spring

 Students walking on USU campus during snow storm
Anna Johnson

The snow has piled up, coating mailboxes and covering parking lots. Cold temperatures and snow storms continue to hit northern Utah and University of Utah students say they’re not a fan.

“I am originally from Florida and I'm used to 60 degree winters. So these are really cold,” said student Kendra Lowery.

Sariah Phelps agreed. “It was pretty in the beginning,” she said. “And it was nice and snowy and gorgeous and now it's just gone on way too long.”

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is triggered by a change in seasons. Studies found about 5% of American adults experience SAD — over 16.5 million people.

Psychologist Geret Giles said this is not a new phenomenon. “It's a little bit more challenging when it gets really hot, or when it's really cold to go outside. And that can lead to the feelings of isolation,” Giles said.

Psychologist Jennifer Grewe said isolation during winter storms is dangerous because we need human connection.

“Anytime we start to decrease our social interactions … it wears and tears on our mental health,” Grewe said.

There are ways to not only survive these winter months, but to enjoy them.

“One of the best things we can do is start to interact with each other,” Grewe said. “Make plans, put things on the calendar.”

Plants need sunlight to live. Though we probably won’t physically wilt away without the sun, Giles said humans are also affected by a lack of sunlight. Which means it benefits us to find ways to get outside, despite the cold.

“Some of the countries that reside in the most northern areas of the Scandinavian countries, they're also often rated as some of the happiest countries,” Giles explained. “They do things outside and they look for opportunities to enjoy the season, rather than dreading it.”

If getting outside and connecting with others doesn’t work, Grewe said there is an answer everyone should consider.

“Get help, reach out for good professional mental health,” she said. “Which as students you have access to, which is a wonderful thing.”

A long time lover of NPR and radio reporting, Clayre Scott joined UPR in August of 2021 as the producer of the weekly podcast UnDisciplined. She began reporting in 2022 and now enjoys telling stories through sound and getting weekly texts from her family after hearing her on the radio. Along with her work at UPR, Clayre is attending Utah State University to get her degree in Broadcast Journalism, with time on the side to study Political Science and Art History.