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Five tips for beating the winter blues

By Christie Melhorn, November 9 2017 —

Every year, the frenzy of Calgary’s first snowfall results in hundreds of car accidents and even more bitter Facebook statuses. Once the initial shock of snow fades, those of us with a deeply rooted preference for summer are plagued by general mopiness. Whether you’re a snowbird, would rather migrate south or are indifferent to the season, the following tips can make winter more tolerable.

Spend time in bright spaces:

Shorter winter days often instil a sense that there is less time to get things done. According to The Atlantic, the part of the brain that regulates sleep is highly sensitive to light. Lack of sunlight can throw our bodies out of wack, making us sleepier sooner and therefore less motivated to write another page of a paper or read one more textbook chapter. While synthetic light can’t fully simulate the sun, spending time in bright, warm-toned spaces can keep you alert and stunt drowsy spells. The Taylor Family Digital Library invites lots of natural light during the day and stays bright inside after the sun goes down.

Dress appropriately:

Being cold is one of the most uncomfortable sensations experienced by the human body. Losing feeling in your fingers and toes is panic-inducing and, until warming up, can make it impossible to unlock your front door or respond to texts in reasonable amount of time. Carrying around a bunch of layers when you get to campus is cumbersome but is better than getting frostbite on the way there. Invest in proper footwear that can tolerate at least -30 C weather or wear a few pairs of socks when necessary. Now’s the time to splurge on that cool toque and a blanket scarf you’ve been eyeing. If you don’t have a campus locker, you can stash your stuff in a day locker for a quarter or two in the locker rooms by the Red and Gold Gyms in Kinesiology A.


Between packing on 30 pounds of layers and enduring scary road conditions, everything takes extra time in winter. While this seemingly makes skipping the gym or avoiding exercise more justifiable, doing so is counterproductive. Physician Martin Vatheuer says that even just 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise three times a week combats depression. The release of endorphins boosts mood, refreshes focus and offers a sense of reward. All of these factors work together to increase motivation and productivity, so making the time for even a quick walk around campus is worth it. You can also use this as an opportunity to take a new fitness class or give winter sports a try — the Outdoor Centre offers everything from skating to snowshoeing.

Drink a warm beverage:

The heat of a beverage doesn’t permanently alter your body’s temperature. However,  the fleeting warmth is enjoyable when it’s snowy and cold. Sipping peppermint or ginger tea can bolster your immune system and the distinct flavours engage your senses, helping you feel awake. A classic cup of hot cocoa is comforting but if coffee is your vice, the caffeine content actually has warming effects by stimulating your metabolism — but don’t count on this as a way to fend off extra winter weight!

Be around plants:

The scent and colour of plants can have a profound impact on our well-being. On the wellness blog Pyschology Today, psychologist Jonathan Kaplan explains that even just being around potted house plants can lower anxiety as well as enhance productivity and attentiveness. The compelling nature of plants grounds us in the moment and can instil a sense of calm. However, taking care of a house plant as a student can be a lot when you’re struggling to take care of yourself. Try popping into a garden centre or florist for similar benefits. Plant in Inglewood is a very engaging and wholesome space to spend time in. Studying in the atrium in the on-campus Administration building is another great option — just bring a sweater. It gets chilly in there.

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