by Leonore Vaes, UWCM
9th of October, 2022
Illustration by Maripaz Sandaoval
The days are slowly getting shorter and the ghost-grey skies are officially marking the beginning of autumn. We are officially entering a phase of change. A different mood is settling upon us as we are entering a portal to a time of dread where the leaves are becoming an incandescent red rather than viridescent and where the rain becomes a usual ritual of the day rather than an awaited and praised moment. While some are so busy adjusting (back) to their lives on the Island, they haven’t even noticed the trees slowly fading into shades of red, orange, and yellow. Yet it is still hard to say goodbye to the warmth that wraps around us during the hot summer nights as we are now welcoming crispy cold nights where the smell of the night reminds us of a fireplace. Mother Nature is not the only one transitioning, we are too. As we pack away our summer clothes and pull out the woollen sweaters, we are officially preparing for this new phase of the year. This new season may be metaphoric for new possibilities. No more procrastinating. Going to bed earlier. Eating healthier. We all make promises to ourselves that are never held. In reality, many of us find ourselves struggling to find the motivation to tackle our suffocating pile of deadlines and chilly nights.
It is completely valid to be feeling down and anxious. Yet, despite the challenges we face, it is amazing to also look at the wonders of what autumn holds and appreciate them. The best way to get through this season is to romanticise it in every possible way. Going on a walk to Albert Heijn? Blast a Spotify “sad autumn playlist” as you try to catch the falling amber leaves. Getting ready to go to bed? Make yourself a hot chocolate and snuggle into your bed as you watch the rain pelting the window. Feeling cold after a nature walk? Make yourself a warm cup of tea and write a note for your friend. Bored on a Sunday afternoon? Cook something delicious. Fall is truly a white canvas waiting to be covered day by day by cosy activities that keep us going.
The reality is that days are going to become shorter and the workload harder. As we push through this year, it is important for us students to find things that are vital for our mental and physical health. Whether it is reading a few pages of a book before going to bed, going on a run in the chilly wind, meditating for a bit when we find time amongst these draining days, hugging a friend, or eating something that reminds us of home. Finding time for yourself is important and I promise, will help you pull through the “winter blues.”
In more scientific terms, if you strongly feel energyless and have changes in your mood, this may be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression related to season change. The reduced sunlight may disrupt your internal body clock as well as lead to a drop in serotonin (a neurotransmitter responsible for mediating feelings of satisfaction and happiness), which are two factors that may lead to depression. The changing of seasons may also cause an imbalance in your melatonin level, which is a hormone that is crucial to our sleep patterns. If you feel that this might be affecting you, please reach out to your counsellors.