Winter, depression and Christmas “cheer”

December 12, 2006
Winter, depression and Christmas “cheer”
Matt Hill

As the holiday season and finals for fall semester walk hand-in-hand down November and December, people can understandably get a little stressed. Pressure to buy gifts, pressure to make time with your family, pressure to study for exams, and pressure to keep up with friendships and relationships can turn even the most determined optimist into a crabby person.

Students in this predicament may begin to feel, subtly, that the world just isn’t working with them; that no matter how hard they try things don’t work out the way they want them to. And that’s disappointing to anyone.

It’s in these difficult times of year, when the skies are gray and the teachers critical, that we as students and as people need to be the most aware of our state of mind. For the above reasons, and for a myriad of others, winter is as commonly associated with depression as it is with Christmas cheer.

I know about this emotional phenomenon from personal experience. I know that there are many reasons for us to be tired, annoyed, cynical and pessimistic. Friends can be demanding or distant or just stubborn.

Teachers can expect more than what we think is reasonable, or may not appreciate our work properly. The continually steely gray skies recently can slowly drag once-chipper moods down to the ground.

And it’s a self-perpetuating problem; the longer emotions linger dragging on the ground, the harder it can be to pick them up. Even the most well-intentioned of friends sometimes do nothing but frustrate and aggravate the problem with their cliched advice and recommendations.

Family, too, can be little help; after spending so much time at college, many of us feel more distant from those who raised us all our lives. We feel a natural inclination to pull away, and this can make it more difficult to connect with those who love us.

Despite all this, this is a season of peace and goodwill toward one another. Try to look past the sometimes-depressing situations of the moment. Looking at problems piece by little piece instead of all at once can help make them seem less overwhelming. Communicate with peers. A stony silence may feel better than talking at first, but it only brings a mood farther down through isolation.

Many of us will discover that when we reach out for help, there are more hands reaching back than we originally thought there would be.

By grasping those helping hands, of friends, family or just someone we needed to talk to, we may be helping them as much as they are helping us.

So try to help your Hamline comrades to love the life they’re living right now. Doing our part to help each other in times of emotional need may lift up our own spirits even more. Sometimes all we need is a little perspective to help us see that we feel more than just the problems that face us now.

Put away the sarcastic comments and biting wit. During times of sadness the best we can do is appreciate each other for the imperfect people we are.
Posted by dwright at December 12, 2006 07:41 PM

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