Illustration by Alyson Peabody

Lizzy Boudah, Staff Writer

When the holidays come around, students find themselves scrambling for not only finances, but for finals as well. This time of year can lead to a lot of stress among students and professors alike. While there may be happy music and celebrations of all kinds, many students find themselves isolating themselves during this chilly season.

There’s a specific name to feeling sad or fatigued during the winter season–SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is generally known as seasonal depression and can drastically change the daily lives of students as the weeks go on. In fact, college students are more prone to experiencing this as their workload increases.

The winter time, as we USM students know, is signaling the time of final exams as the semester comes to a close. While the school puts on many activities to help students unwind, it’s important to know that it could be more than just finals stress. Seasonal depression and general depression tend to team up against the body and cause fatigue, drowsiness, difficulty waking, increased anxiety, and a decrease in the desire to socialize (What college students should know about Seasonal Affective Disorder). This can cause students to fall deep into their own heads and fall behind in classes right before finals, only adding on to the current stress.

Some ways to keep your mind calm through tough times like these can be physical, creative, spiritual, or academic. For example, when you feel like you’re too tired to function because of the sudden darkness at 4:00pm, take a walk in the chilly weather and activate your muscles and body. A stimulated body helps for a stimulated mind. Waking up the body can help with energy to study, socialize, and continue practicing safe mental health.

Taking time to relax and be creative can also help through the rough days. Grab a coloring book and focus on staying in between the lines. Work your brain to be as precise as you can and then look back on the wonderful job you did.

If you’re spiritual, practice worship, however you may do so. Listen to music, meditate, pray, whatever would help you calm your anxiety and increase your faith.

If you’re looking for academic relief, grab a friend from class and study together. Every now and then, take a break and ask if they need help or if they can help you. Whatever you’re going through, you don’t have to do it alone.

The winter season may take a drag on students, but we are all stronger than the chilly winds. Keep a good attitude and take advantage of the resources on campus! In Gorham, the Health and Counseling Services (located in Upton) provide up to 12 free sessions a semester for students who seek help. They can be contacted at this number: 207-780-5411. There are also services in Portland for commuter students or for those with classes on that campus. They are located in the basement of the Sullivan Gym and can be contacted at 207-780-4050 (Counseling line). The Disabilities Services Center (located in 242 Luther Bonney, Portland) also have very good resources for students and are always willing to help if anyone needs them. If registered with documented anxiety, they may even be able to grant students accommodations should an anxiety attack happen in class! They can be reached at: 207-780-4706.

Have a safe break and good luck on your finals! Don’t let whatever is holding you back hold you down. You have the strength to rise up and conquer any mountain put before you, whether it’s seasonal/general depression, stress, or finals, you’re not alone and you can do this!


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