Keeping Your Mental Health a Priority During North Country Winters | St. Lawrence University

Keeping Your Mental Health a Priority During North Country Winters

Monday, February 17, 2020

Coming from sunny Colorado, the dark and cold winters of the North Country shocked me. Throughout my time at SLU, I have learned how to prioritize my mental health and stay happy and healthy. 

Up until the start of my freshman year, I didn’t know how large of an effect sun exposure could have on your mental health. As many college students can agree, the transition into college can be difficult. Let’s face the truth, the St. Lawrence community does an amazing job relieving homesickness, but it can be hard to stay sane and happy when you don’t see the sun for a week at a time. It is important to recognize and take time to take care of your mental health because it can have important effects on your physical health and emotional wellbeing while under academic stress. Often mental health and wellness are ignored or mistreated which makes it difficult to find your place on campus. Thankfully, St. Lawrence has amazing mental health counseling staff that make it easy to make appointments and talk to someone. These are some of the most important things for surviving St. Lawrence winters!

#1 Wake Up Early
One of the most important things I have learned while being at school is that if you have a late class and sleep in (lucky you), most of the day is gone by the time that you are out of class. If you have a later class, I recommend waking up early before class and walking to the Fitness Center to work out (or sauna). The early morning walk to the Fitness Center has some of the best weather and staying active is a great way to improve your mental and physical health.

#2 Invest in a Happy Light
One of the best gifts I have ever received was a Happy Light, which is a light therapy lamp that is known to improve energy, focus, mood, and sleep. After using the light regularly, I have noticed significant improvements in my mood – which is amazing. Because North Country winters are long and cold with little sun, it is important to make sure your body is getting the necessary means to stay healthy.

#3 Stay Connected to the World Around You
St. Lawrence students all know the feeling of the ‘SLU bubble.' It is easy to slip into a reality where schoolwork is the only thing on your mind. During the winter, staying inside and focusing on schoolwork can get mentally exhausting. The location of Canton is perfect the perfect solution because we are surrounded by ski mountains, many outdoor activities, and if needed – a short drive to Ottawa. Sometimes it is necessary to take a step back from the SLU bubble and focus on what you need for your mental health. Staying mentally healthy means connecting to the community around you as well as focusing on yourself.

#4 Develop a routine outside of your class schedule
Creating a routine that gets me out of my dorm room and includes activities beyond my coursework is one of the most important things that keep me sane. If you are not part of a sports team, it can be hard to stay busy enough to motivate yourself to focus on your schoolwork. Some of the things that I have found most helpful are going to club meetings, working out, and attending yoga classes.

It is necessary to pay attention to your mental health in addition to schoolwork. At St. Lawrence, you will be challenged academically, socially, and mentally but managing these aspects correctly can make St. Lawrence the best adventure of your life.