How To: Cure the Mid-Winter Blues

WinterSnowball1000The last leaves of fall have floated down to the near-frozen ground on the Deerfield campus. Ah, yes, winter is upon us and whether you like it or not, there is no escaping its wrath. The students who come from the warmer climates are especially affected by this sharp seasonal shift. Many students (in denial) respond by continuing to wear their flip-flops, but in the end even the wearing of flip-flops cannot prevent the inevitability of winter’s arrival.

How does a student at Deerfield respond to this harsh climate? It’s not easy, but with some imagination and motivation, students can prepare admirably.

Winter doesn’t seem so intimidating at the beginning, but as the days shorten and temperatures drop, it’s not uncommon for many students to start feeling the “winter blues.” With shorter and darker days, the urge to hibernate can set in. This can lead to isolation and lethargy (not qualities normally associated with the typical Deerfield student). It is essential for students to find the time to get outside every day, even if by simply taking a brisk walk to the “Rock.” Fresh air and sunshine are essential to maintaining better moods, allowing the absorption of some vitamin D. You may also want to suggest that they keep their shades or blinds up in their rooms during the day so that their rooms stay lighter and more cheerful.

Leslie Koeppel, a current DA parent, offers two ideas for helping with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The first is taking a walk to Richardson’s Candy Kitchen down the street from DA. A nice walk with friends and a bit of dark chocolate will undoubtedly get those endorphins to kick in. After all, who doesn’t need a little chocolate!

If students are really feeling overwhelmed by winter, she recommends using a “blue light box” which mimics the sun by coming on in the morning for a few minutes. According to its description, in as little as fifteen minutes it can help brighten one’s day and increase alertness.

When the snow does arrive, life on campus can be even more fun than it usually is! According to some students, it is fun to go sledding on the lower level at DA or even on the hills at the Eaglebrook School. It is always easy to borrow a sled from a faculty dorm parent. Other winter activities are yoga, snowball fights, ice-skating, and paddle tennis. There are two paddle courts located behind the swimming pool. It is an easy and great game to learn and play throughout the winter. Deerfield also organizes ski trips on the weekend to a variety of mountains near school. These day trips are a great way to take advantage of all the wonderful snow.

If students are looking for ways to escape the cold, going to a restaurant in town, preparing a fun meal with a dorm parent, or simply cheering on the winter teams at DA are all good, easy options. Let’s also not forget how many dogs and children are roaming around campus. Offering to take a dog for a walk can be loads of fun and babysitting for any of the adorable faculty children is wildly appreciated.

For overall well being, a good workout cannot be over emphasized. As we all know, there is a spectacular fitness center on campus so students should take advantage of it. A good sweat from vigorous exercise will energize and revitalize students on a gray day and help them concentrate when it is time to study.

A balanced diet is also helpful to maintain energy levels, so encourage your children to have healthy eating habits throughout the winter term. It is tempting at times for them to order in when the weather is especially cold but remind them that a trip to the dining hall will always serve their nutritional needs better.

Sleep should be at the top of every student’s priority list. Students should monitor their sleeping schedules and not compromise the eight hours needed. If a student feels “under the weather,” he or she should go to the Health Center. The nurses and doctors on staff there are very capable and experienced and sensitive to the needs of students and help them to stay calm about missing work.

Socializing and getting together with friends is vital during winter months.  A wonderful time to reach out to new students is during the new winter term dinner schedule. With fewer sit-down dinners, students have more freedom and flexibility about choosing their seats, and it is an opportunity for them to get to know others with whom they are not already friendly and familiar.

We can’t stop winter, but we can help our children be prepared to see the positive side of the season and have the tools to brighten their outlook.

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