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How to combat seasonal sadness: a winter survival guide

By Sophie Humphrey Dec 11, 2019
me enjoying a coffee at Kingston's Department of Coffee and Social Affairs Photo: Isabella Ruffatti

It is scientifically proven that the weather can affect your mood, which is why we students often associate summer with happiness (hot weather, fewer layers and of course, no university), and winter with sadness (dreary weather, pressure from deadlines and sleepless nights in the library trying to balance our work with other aspects of our life.

This sadness, according to the NHS, is defined as ‘SAD: (seasonal affective disorder), aka the ‘winter depression’, because the symptoms are more visible in the wintertime. These symptoms include tiredness, changes in appetite/weight and some extreme cases, suicidal thoughts.

Inspired by this recent article by The Guardian, Sophie Humphrey has you covered with the student survival guide for winter on how to beat SAD and thrive this season!

Tip One – Dress for the season. This season in the UK is unpredictable, but undoubtedly chilly so to kick out the cold find weather-appropriate clothes. A big cosy coat is a must whether you like to wear them or not. If you don’t you’re more prone to getting those awful colds and coughs that are inevitable around the university campus. No need to risk it!

Tip Two –  Speaking of illness – tea and honey. You’re probably thinking, tea and honey? How basic. Well, yes but it works.

The professionals agree, as the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, recommends: “Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon of lukewarm honey with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder daily for three days.”

Journalism student Aimen Fatima Rehman says: “I’m bound to catch a cold at least once this season, so I always keep tea and honey on hand. It’s the best cure I’ve discovered so far, besides it being delicious.”

Additionally, tea in itself is a great pick-me-up, especially in a nation where there are probably more tea flavours than people in the country! You can’t go wrong with a good cup of tea.

Tip three – Check in with yourself and your friends. This can be as simple as offering a text or a friend the chance to meet up whether it be to do something fun or something chilled, it may help more than you think.

Member of the KU Mental Health Society, Hazel Fanning believes getting outside is the key to battling SAD. “Things that help me are taking walks outside and getting as much natural light as possible and also having plants inside. Making your room as light as possible helps your brain to adjust to the shorter days that occur in the winter.”

You never know what is going inside someone’s head unless you ask – so be attentive and take care of each other. If you think you or a friend may be suffering from SAD, please visit your GP or contact the Student Wellbeing Group on 020 8417 2172 or email

Tip Four – Treat yourself. Deadlines are important, but sometimes you need to a break. Grab a coffee or a sweet treat. The mood lift may be temporary, but satisfying that sweet craving will be worth it!

If you’re living that budget life, just purchase your favourite coffee from the supermarket. Alternatively, visit a coffee shop for that extra boost in productivity. Two of my favourite places are Beanberry Coffee and the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs.

A refreshing iced latte at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs Photo: Isabella Ruffatti

Tip Five – A spokesperson for Kingston University’s wellbeing team believes the flu is one of the dangers of the winter season, and you must protect yourself from it. They said: “Protect yourself from the flu! Flu is very infectious and the virus can live on hands and hard surfaces for up to 24 hours. Bin any tissues and keep your hands clean. Get a free flu jab on the NHS if you have a long-term health condition. These are available from your local GP surgery and some pharmacies.”

Furthermore, The Guardian reported last winter that “the flu has left more than 2,000 Britons needing life-or-death treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU)”. So please be safe this winter, and get your jabs.

A common cold or deadly flu?

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