Tips for a Winter Wonderland

Winter. We already see signs of it: the trees have shed their foliage, the wind bites a bit more than it used to, and our breath fogs up a bit on our way to an 8:30 class. For many, these signs are signals of a challenging season ahead. The bitter cold keeping the community indoors and the longest uninterrupted stretch of school after Winter break can feel isolating and dreary, especially when it lacks the sunny, warm hours of Fall and Spring. But it doesn’t need to be like this. To avoid the winter slog, it’s important to have the right mindset as we leave Fall term and enter Winter.

Days will get shorter and the outdoors less accessible in a few months. As a result, you may feel constrained to your dorm during this term. While you might feel the loss of the library, downtown, or other locations as places to socialize or study, staying in the dorm is a great opportunity to cultivate joy and comfort in your personal space. Turn cramped to cozy by hosting homey activities in your dorm, like hot chocolate munches and study sessions, or maybe reinvent your room by adding holiday decorations to your living space. Consider options that, when the cold isn’t keeping you inside, you haven’t before. 

Along with being contained to your dorm, Winter term can also get lonely. Some students, due to the weather, find solitude inside and opt out of socializing with the community. For this, we say to embrace solitude – think of it as not alone but lonely. This winter, take the increased time you may spend alone to promote self-care and find the little small things that you wouldn’t necessarily do when around other people – for example, watch Frozen for a millionth time. There are also many ways to combat isolation during the winter. Be proactive. Take a walk outside in the cold weather after being cooped outside all day and appreciate nature in winter, such as the frost or the sleet coming down. Go to the gym or make a den run, any way that you can move and release endorphins will only boost your mood this winter. Try also taking comfort in spending time with people indoors. Whether it be working together in the library after the sun has long set or going downtown to sit in one of the cafes, spending time with others in the warmth of the plethora of buildings is a way to protect yourself from the chilly outside and also enjoy good company. Finally, take advantage of the events that the school puts on. While it may be easier to simply stay in for the night, going to school-wide events such as Winter A/E, Blue and Silver, Casino Night, Den Dances, and more, will overall increase community spirit and chances are you’ll end up having fun.

In addition to environmental changes, the winter is also academically difficult. The term lacks extended breaks after we turn to the next calendar year. The most we get are a few, cherished long weekends. We also lack the freshly-rested mind we had in the Fall term and the ‘last-lap’ motivation of the Spring term. By the middle of the year, most courses start to take advantage of this long stretch of time to begin long and involved projects, adding daunting assignments to our workload. At the same time, applications for summer programs and extracurricular assignments are released, adding to the already heavy school workload. Winter term can be intimidating, especially when you realize you’re facing almost two straight months of school and extracurriculars, with no long breaks to allow you some rest. However, there are some tips you can take to alleviate some stress and make your work more manageable. The first and most important is to create a structure for yourself and stick to it. Though it may seem foreign at first, scheduling your free time or outdoor time will encourage you to follow through and keep yourself from doing too much work or slipping into low moods, also ensuring you won’t miss the scarce sunlight hours. Scheduling in each assignment can also make them less intimidating and keep you on track with all you have to do. In short, though it may be tough at first, there are ways to deal with the long and strenuous Winter term. 

These recommendations might make the Winter term seem scary; they’re meant to help prepare you for challenges that may or may not arise. For some, Winter is their favorite term, with the holidays and the snow. For others, it’s just a season they have to make it through before Spring blooms again. With the right strategy, Winter can be great for everyone.