Damp, dark, dreary winter season brings more colds and lower spirits

The dark winter season can bring on increased sickness and even depression if we don't treat our bodies right, Director of Student Health Services Ruth Sarna said.

Sarna said it is a common misconception that colds are formed from being out in the cold weather. Rather, colds are more common in the winter because we are in such confined living spaces.

"We're more prone to get viruses because of cold quarters," Sarna said. "We're not able to air things out."

Sarna said students who already have colds should pay attention to their everyday actions to prevent germs from spreading. She said this included frequent hand washing, coughing into a tissue or one's arm, getting an adequate amount of sleep and eating right.

"Eat the fruits and vegetables your mom always told you to eat," Sarna said.

Sarna also said this time of year could bring about negative moods.

"It's sometimes hard to keep our spirits elevated," she said.

Director of the Counseling Center Kelly Bowers said many factors can affect moods during this time of year.

"There are a lot of things that go along with this season to make people more 'down,'" Bowers said. "The holidays bring stress to the forefront, and even after the holidays, people can be stressed out."

Bowers also said the weather of winter attributes to feelings of sadness or depression.

"Being drearier outside can make us feel down in the dumps," Bowers said.

Sophomore Stephen Barnt said he thinks the winter puts more stress on the body, making us more moody because of the drastic changes in the weather.

"Our bodies aren't ready for it," Barnt said. "It puts us in seasonal depression."

Bowers said there are special lamps or light bulbs that simulate sunlight to make people feel better, even with just a half hour to one hour of use per day.

"I think the lamp is a great idea because the sun just isn't as bright this time of year," she said.

Bowers said staying inside all the time is not good for one's body, and people often eat less-healthy foods because they are limiting themselves to their living quarters.

"Sometimes in the winter, we eat comfort foods," Bowers said.

She said it is good to get outside and be active, even when it is cold.

"Getting out into this kind of weather is great," Bowers said. "Experience the winter."

She said students don't necessarily need to exercise - that sledding, having snowball fights or even skiing raise spirits.

Bowers said planning events for the future is also a good idea.

"Having something you can look forward to during the winter helps (students) get through the down times in the winter," Bowers said.

The main culprits in lower spirits and minor depression are lack of exercise and unhealthy diets, Bowers said. In addition, keeping strong feelings to oneself can also trigger a lack of enthusiasm.

"Just talking about stuff ... about feelings, can be helpful," Bowers said.

Prevent winter colds

*wash hands often*don't cough into hands*get enough sleep*plan for the future*dress adequately*eat healthy foods like fruits & veggies*go outdoors*sunlight-simulating lightbulbs*exercise*limit alcohol consumption

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