Got the winter blues? Here’s how to tackle it as a Uni of York student

An essential guide to winter wellbeing as a student in York

It’s been a long, long semester so far. This time of year, with the days getting shorter and Yorkshire getting colder, it seems like the semester is dragging by.

And it’s therefore unsurprising that lots of students (including me) find themselves struggling with their mental health and wellbeing this time of year. It’s dark, it’s cold, and the days drag on in the lead-up to the Christmas vacation and its festive celebrations.

Thankfully, I’ve consulted my wintry wellbeing wisdom to produce an essential guide on how to tackle the winter blues as a Uni of York student. So, I present to you my top tips on how to beat those pesky winter blues.

Always set aside time to indulge in your passions and hobbies

For me, dance always beats the blues at any time of the year

A foolproof remedy to use when faced with a case of the dreaded winter blues is finding a passion or a hobby that offers a sense of fulfilment, and escapism from the hustle and bustle of your academic schedule. Personally, dance is my most loved passion, and it always beats the blues for me. But your passion could be anything from painting to photography, sports to singing, or cooking to crocheting.

“But I don’t have a hobby!” I hear you cry. Well, never fear, because the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU) boasts an impressive choice of over 200 student-run societies and over 65 sports clubs for you to get involved in. In other words, you’re bound to find an activity that you enjoy.

Get out and about in the city of York

York is a beautiful city steeped in rich culture and history at all times of the year, but York truly shines (both literally and figuratively) at Christmas time. With its vibrant Christmas market, its warm and hearty food, and its delightful carousel (my personal favourite, as it brings out my inner child), the city of York is a haven of festive joy and excitement during winter, and it’s ready to welcome you with open arms into its lively yet cosy ambience.

So why not take a stroll or take the bus into town? A festive cornucopia of cosy market stalls, charming eateries, and Christmassy nooks and crannies awaits you within the city walls.

And remember . . . you’re never too old for a ride on the carousel.

Take a wintry walk around campus and appreciate the nature around you

The lake on Campus West looking frosty in winter

As Uni of York students, we’re very lucky to be able to live and study on two beautiful campuses that are brimming with diverse wildlife. And while our university is stunning all-year-round, it is most breathtaking in winter, when frost sparkles on the campus plants, and the lake on Campus West is shrouded in mist.

Take a mindful stroll around campus and appreciate the simplicity of the nature around you. As you walk, be sure to take deep breaths and allow yourself to relax into a mindful state of admiring the beautiful world around you.

Attend your department’s Wellbeing Workshops (if they have them)

It’s worth checking with your department to see if they offer weekly Wellbeing Workshops. For example, my department, the Department of English & Related Literature, hold free arts and crafts workshops every Wednesday afternoon, hosted by the department’s dedicated Wellbeing Officer. Every week, we sit down together in a relaxed setting and enjoy partaking in crafts such as decorating old jam jars, making lavender bags to put under our pillows, or painting pebbles. And with free teas, biscuits and snacks offered at the workshops, you can’t really go wrong.

Participate in your college’s events

It’s also worth checking on social media to see if your college runs weekly events for its members. For example, my college, Anne Lister College, runs a weekly ‘Craft Club’, and various other fun events, such as DogSoc visits and film-screenings in the Hub. Some of these events even include free food, such as the weekly college brunch, or Anne Lister’s iconic ‘Taco in a Bag’ (a bag of Doritos that you can add toppings such as warm beef or vegan mince, cheese, lettuce, salsa or sour cream to).

Spend time with friends (and family!) as much as possible

A really fun way to help beat the winter blues is to gather a group of friends together and plan something to look forward to, such as a meal out, a night out, or a visit to one of York’s many iconic attractions. Spending time with friends that support and care for you will enhance your wellbeing and contribute to your overall sense of happiness.

This may be easier for some of you than others (as, for some of you, home might be half an hour away, and for others it can be on the opposite side of the country), but it’s also a lovely idea to invite your family members up to York for a weekend. You can show them all of the festive wonders that York has to offer, while simply enjoying some family time together.

All in all, spending time with friends and family is an ideal remedy for those winter blues.

Eat good food (and get plenty of sleep!)

This sounds so obvious, but ensuring that you’re eating and sleeping well will contribute to good health and wellbeing. Don’t underestimate the benefits of eating healthy, nutritious meals, and getting at least eight hours of sleep every night.

Don’t be afraid to speak to someone if you’re struggling

Don’t forget that there are numerous sources of wellbeing support available to you as a Uni of York student. Your College Team, your academic supervisor, and your department’s Wellbeing Officer are useful sources of support that you can access if the winter blues are getting to you. The Open Door Team offer in-person appointments with qualified mental health practitioners, and you can access this wellbeing support by filling out a form on the ‘Open Door’ page on the Uni of York website.

If you prefer to virtually access support, TalkCampus is a website specifically designed for university students that offers free peer-to-peer support.

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