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How to Get Past Winter Break Depression

As the end of December comes and goes, and the new year begins, students everywhere rejoice because for about a week or two, they get a break from stuffy classrooms, insufferable classmates, and homework. Like all of my peers, I was more than relieved to get time off from my classes, but a few days into winter break, an irritating feeling of boredom and listlessness set in.

It is extremely easy to resort to being lazy during breaks from school, especially during winter when snow or rain storms might seem as if they are sending you a personal message to stay home. While some people are perfectly content with sleeping in, watching TV and then going back to bed and doing it all over the next day, I am someone that needs to keep busy. When I stay home all day and stray from any sort of routine, I experience a feeling similar to that of being stuck in a tiny cardboard box with no light and little oxygen. If you relate to this, try doing a few of the things that I do to keep busy and enjoy break.

  1. Exercise. The ultimate key to remaining positive is staying active. Not only is exercising an automatic mood lifter, it makes you feel productive and increases you energy levels. Exercising is also a great thing to do with friends. Bringing a buddy to the gym to run next to, or hiking with a group can be a more exciting way to stay active, especially if you are someone that has a hard time finding motivation to exercise on your own.
  2. Spend time outdoors. Depending upon where you live, there are a variety of outdoor activities to participate in. You could try hiking, kayaking, going to the beach, or if you live somewhere where it snows, you could even ski or snowboard. Being outdoors will instantly lift your mood and clear your head. 
  3. See a movie. Winter break is the perfect time to go to a movie theater and see a few of the films nominated for Oscars. Movies can help to take your mind off of things that are bothering you, and hopefully open your mind to situations experienced by characters from different locations and time periods than your own. Broadening your horizons may be entertaining, educational, and inspiring. 
  4. Go on a day trip. During breaks from school, my friends and I like to take day trips to close locations around us such as Big Sur and Santa Barbara. While both of there places are only about an hour and a half away from our town, it feels like we are somewhere entirely new. The change of scenery is invigorating and mixes things up from our regular routine. 
  5. Complete a project. If you have a lot of spare time, pick a project to complete and work on it a little each day of your break. This could be anything from taking up an instrument to writing a short poetry anthology, to volunteering at a local charity or organization. Experiencing a sense of completion will make you feel as if you used your time wisely to do something that benefits you or the people around you. 
  6. Pick a new book to read. Personally, I could spend hours scouring the isles of my local bookstore, reading the backs of books and looking for new authors. Reading is a calm, mellow activity, and it is important to set aside time for things such as reading that involve more mental stamina than physical. 
  7. Don’t spend too much time on social media. Try and limit your use of things like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. There are few feelings comparable to that of seeing all of your friends hanging out together on Snapchat while you are still lying in bed. Instead of scrolling through your feed wishing you were doing the fun things the people you’re following are doing, get out and do those things yourself.   
  8. Eat well. Make sure you are eating filling, healthy food that allows you to stay active while keeping your energy levels up. It is important to fuel your body with foods that make you feel good, not just foods that may look appealing or taste good at first. Heavy, greasy foods will make you feel tired and lethargic, while vegetables, protein, and healthy fats will give you the strength you need to get through the day. 
  9. Set an alarm to wake up each morning. While it is certainly not necessary to get up at the crack of dawn each day when there isn’t school to attend, it is smart to continue to get up while it is still morning. If you sleep until eleven or twelve, you will waste half of your day. However, waking up at eight or nine will give you time to make use of the morning, arguably some of the most peaceful, beautiful hours of the day.
  10. Remember you are not alone. Chances are your peers feel just as isolated as you do. Everyone is in the same boat as you, so be the person to reach out and invite your friends or even someone you are only acquainted with to hang out. Although it can be hard to be the one to make plans out of fear of rejection, it is important to take a chance, because your peers might be feeling just as lonely as you are. 

Emma Jane Haas is a 17 year old from San Luis Obispo. She spends her spare time photographing her friends, writing, playing and singing music, and being outdoors.

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