Keeping things bright when the days get short

Ah, the end of Daylight Savings time–the positive aspects end after that one extra hour of sleep on Saturday night, as far as I’m concerned.

When the clocks go back an hour in early November and the sun starts setting around 4:30pm, I sometimes struggle to keep a positive mindset. But knowing how to deal with the darkness is an important part of handling New England winters. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this at Yale, or worries about it as a prospective student. So, I wanted to share my tried and true tips for boosting your mood during short winter days.

Be outside for at LEAST 20 minutes between the hours of 7am and 3pm, i.e. in broad daylight. Walk to class instead of taking the shuttle. Grab a cup of hot coffee and enjoy it outside before your meeting. Even if you have to get up 20 minutes earlier to get outside, it’s worth it. I’ve found that just experiencing some sunlight every day boosts my mood because I’m reminded that I’m not living in a nocturnal nightmare.

Invest in warm layers and wear them! If I’m too cold, I will keep my time outside to an absolute minimum. This makes my point about being outside hard to achieve. Having warm clothing that you can layer will ensure that you’re comfortable both walking around campus and indoors, since it’s easy to just add and remove layers. Don’t let inadequate clothing stop you from enjoying the precious daylight. And if you’re worried about the cost of winter clothing, Yale College’s safety net can help you cover it if you’re eligible. You can also find great deals on clothing on Free and For Sale (read Cassandra’s post about it here!)

Eat soup! I know this is a little unconventional, but a warm bowl of soup at dinner is one of the best pick-me-ups I know. It warms up my body and my soul, and it reveals one of the good things about the winter–it can be very cozy!

And finally: don’t skimp on fun times with friends. The onset of short days unfortunately coincides with an uptick in work deadlines, and it can be hard to find time to spend socializing. However, I’ve found that spending some time with friends counteracts the darkness, leaving me feeling refreshed and happier. And the benefits seep into my work life, too, clearing my head and making me more productive.

While these tips still don’t stop me from looking forward to longer days, they have helped me tremendously in enjoying the colder months. So bring it on, winter!