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You should put your mental health first

We’re at that terrible time of the year when the sky is dark by 5 p.m. every single night. The days are short, the classes are long and the joy of the holidays seems so far out of reach, but still close enough for you to see. Though everything may seem hopeless, we have some tips for helping combat seasonal depression. 

One tip is to try to see the sun when you can. Since classes are often during the few hours that the sun is out, this can be challenging, so we encourage you to enjoy all the time you have outdoors. Even that walk up the Rabb steps can be good for the soul with the right mindset. Also helping in the quest for longer days is light therapy, exposure to a bright light throughout the day in order to stimulate the sun. Another way you can help is by other methods of increasing your Vitamin D intake. This can be done with an increase in Vitamin D-rich foods—like seafood or egg yolk—or through supplements. 

General self care is more important than ever for boosting moods. This includes getting enough sleep, eating well, seeing friends, exercising regularly—any activities that will make you feel better. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself too, maybe ordering in food instead of eating in the dining hall or dedicating an entire evening to relaxation. 

It can be difficult to set aside time for yourself during this point in the semester. With deadlines getting closer and work piling up it can be hard to separate yourself from classwork to focus on how you are doing mentally. And it might not feel like a priority but you need to set aside time to check in with yourself. It’s alright not to feel okay all the time, and it’s important to be honest with yourself about where you are so you can do what’s best for you. Even if that means going to sleep early instead of doing that reading or going on a walk instead of finishing your assignment. 

It can be normal to feel burnt out at this point of the semester; you aren’t alone. It can be scary to admit feeling burnt out, but it is a common feeling. It’s also completely okay to bring your concerns to professors if you need an extension on an assignment. You can go to office hours and talk it out with them. By being honest and upfront about work with professors it can help alleviate any pressure you feel on yourself and allow you to prioritize your own mental health.  Professors are also humans and they’ve probably experienced what you are currently experiencing. By opening a dialog with them about your feelings it can allow for a better relationship and work environment. 

There is also a Wellness Day on Friday, Nov. 19, according to a Brandeis Brief email asking students to come “on Friday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., in the SCC to enjoy many different kinds of relaxing activities to celebrate Wellness Day!” We encourage you to check it out. 

The other option may seem counter-productive: lean into the sadness. Embrace “sad girl autumn.” Don’t be afraid to cry to “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” on a loop for an hour. Scream into the void. The release will ultimately make you feel better. This, of course, is a temporary fix and should not be frequently. The occasional expulsion of emotions can be a healthy release, but if this is frequently happening, that can be cause for concern. 

If you feel your seasonal depression is intense, seeking professional help might help. The Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC) offers a wide range of treatments, both on an individual level and group therapy. To learn how to make an appointment with the BCC, please visit their website

As cliche as it may sound, trying to focus on the good can be helpful. Thanksgiving break is almost here; even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving itself, just treat yourself to some good food and relax during the days off. After that, we only have a week and a half of classes, and a lot of classes do not have finals this semester, so then you are just done! To those that do have finals: good luck, and do not fear, you are also almost done. 

This time of year is hard for all of us. But, remember, we’re all in this together. The holidays are almost here; we just have to make it a little bit longer.

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