The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

Winter Blues and Silver Linings

Tis the season to let go of the pressures and hone in on attaining mental stability

The holiday season is ending, and the intense anticipation of finishing the school year is apparent. Students prepare for the transition to the second semester, along with the exciting events that the year’s final stretch brings.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can affect students and staff on campus. The seasonal changes and the added weight of the intensity of coursework, electives and other parts of life can be challenging to cope with.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “As the days get shorter and there is less daylight, you may start to feel sad. While many people experience the ‘winter blues,’ some people may have a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder.”
The symptoms associated with SAD include having a low mood, changes in sleep or appetite and a loss of interest in activities. These feelings pertain to most at some point in their life, and it is imperative to recognize the warning signs of SAD, and whether you or a peer are struggling with these symptoms.
Students agree that they have taken an initiative in the past years to combat these feelings and reduce the pressures of academia and extracurriculars.

I make room for my hobbies because I realize with so many things on top of each other I am always going to have something, so taking the time to do the things I love helps regulate my stress levels.”

— Yuma Torigoe


Torigoe includes the advice she has received from her friends as a reminder to attain an emotional balance.
“One of my good friends emphasized maintaining a good sleep schedule and also breathing. When you are really stressed, you have to focus on your physiological needs like breathing exercises and eating well,” Torigoe said.
Similarly, senior Raeeka Kiumarsi gives advice on how she balances her busy life to accommodate time to enjoy the joyful parts of her life.
“I like to put aside my stress-inducing activities and focus more on my physical and mental well-being. For example, if I am stressed with a bunch of homework, I will not do [it] for a couple hours and focus on doing my skincare or going to the gym and come back to it when I am in a better mental state,” Kiumarsi said.
During the winter season, daylight savings time occurs on the first Sunday of November, and an extra hour of sleep is gained. In retrospect, that may sound
pleasant, but crucial sunlight hours are sacrificed.
The decline of sunlight has an effect on levels of anxiety and serotonin. Some may find themselves struggling to maintain mental stability during this period.
The sun setting at 5 p.m. impacts mood, motivation and drive to complete assignments and attend extracurriculars.
Looking out the window and seeing it pitch black outside alters one’s state into believing that it is nighttime, but in reality, there are many hours of the day remaining.
According to The University of Texas Medical Branch Health, “About 10 million Americans experience SAD, which is a form of depression that usually affects people from mid to late fall through the early days of spring. SAD impacts millions of Americans with consistent and similar symptoms to depression.”
However, hope remains. These symptoms can be temporary, and with the right support system, one can be relieved of their poignant emotions.
Taking the necessary actions to prevent SAD from occurring or recurring in your life is crucial. Implementing breaks and changing your daily routine to incorporate new ideas and spending time for yourself are both beneficial. Some activities that the National Institution of Mental Health (NIMH) recommends are partaking in your hobbies, taking breaks from work to enjoy the fresh air, spending quality time with loved ones and maintaining a healthy diet by watching what you put inside your body.

Professional help such as joining therapy or taking Vitamin D supplements also allows an individual to take the vital steps to recovery and progressing to emulating self improvement.
The stigma surrounding mental health and pursuing care is prevalent, especially within certain cultures; but, realizing that one’s struggles are valid and being conscious of reactions towards the sensitive topic is the first step to advocating for your health, as well as the people you care about.
Seeking the help you need can be challenging, so starting with a conversation with your parents and going to the doctor to identify a recovery plan are recommended.
Achieving a state of well-being is feasible with the right mindset and attitude toward attaining mental stability and having healthy discourse when necessary.
At Woodbridge High, many resources are available to students and staff if these symptoms persist. Connecting with a counselor, utilizing mental health support and speaking with a trusted adult, such as a teacher or another staff member, can be helpful.
As the school year progresses, try to find one or two teachers to whom you feel comfortable opening up to. Pinpointing accessible resources on campus is valuable to maintaining stress. An outlet can consist of the people in your life who you can talk to and are empathetic, such as close friends, teachers, family or other staff members.
Teachers on campus also do a commendable job of checking in with students; some do weekly check-ins online or in class discussions. Other teachers integrate various activities to engage students and allow their perception of the classroom to be a safe space.
Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology teacher Timothy Murray reiterates the benefit of setting aside time in your arduous schedule to concentrate on enjoying life.
“Breaks tend to be good distractions. When you have time off, you can focus more on other things; you don’t have to focus so much on school. So if you’re experiencing seasonal depression, I would say do things that are fun, entertainable and enjoyable for you,” Murray said.
Breaks are an ideal time to recharge and catch up on much needed rest. Students and staff can binge their favorite TV shows, spend quality time with friends or snuggle up under the covers with a furry companion.
Utilize finding comfort away from school and implement various activities ranging from relaxing to productive. Some activities to help one find solace are journaling, volunteering, reading and learning something new. Incorporating mindful tasks into your routine replenishes your skills and increases brain health.
During the holiday season, it is essential to look forward to the positive things happening, such as the winter break, which gives students time to relax, celebrate their cultures and spend quality time with family and friends.
The shift into the new year brings many aspirations as everyone in our community comes together to work towards New Year’s resolutions. Whether one wants to
continue academic excellence, join a new club, make more friends or achieve a sense of bliss, the start of a new year brings a clean slate.
Amid the pressures of being a high school student, make sure to allow yourself time for leisure activities and explore your passions.

Story continues below advertisement
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Amal Dini, Business Manager
Hi! I’m Amal D and I’m super excited to be on the Golden Arrow team. My passions in journalism are writing (mainly opinion and news) as well as featuring new students/clubs/activities on campus, especially the underrepresented ones. Outside of the classroom, I enjoy going to the beach, late night drives, music, food, and online shopping.