Your donation will support the student journalists of Omaha Central High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.
Mental health worsens in winter
January 11, 2023
The leaves falling off the trees and the sun setting earlier every day means winter days are approaching. For many, long days have a negative impact on motivation, attendance at school, and overall mental health but, do they know they are not alone?
Omaha Central students were anonymously surveyed, 83 percent of respondents said different seasons alter their mental health. Local therapist, Meghan Herek says this is not a coincidence.
“SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder describes drastic changes in mood and mental health due to weather, temperature, and seasonal changes,” Herek said. Herk went on to add “I see teenagers experience more drastic mood swings due to weather. They tend to be more dis-regulated- struggling with leveling out mood and impulsivity when there are lots of changes in
weather. Also, in the winter months, with no school and more isolation at home, depression can be more prevalent.”
Many students express that they are saddest in the winter months and happiest in the summer.
“There are many different theories on what causes the mood changes of SAD. Some would argue the barometric pressure in the atmosphere causes shifts in brain chemistry. Others believe that our bodies are essentially ‘hibernating’ due to the cold/dark and that today’s society perceives that as ‘depression’ since it is a less active time of year. “I personally believe the decreased sunlight – the shorter days – along with pressure of holidays, the cold weather that
leads to staying inside a lot and eating and drinking a lot, can also contribute to feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and distress,” Herek said.
One student said, “Gloomy and dark days make me fall deeper into a state of mind where I do not feel like doing anything.”
Another student in agreement said, “I lose all my strive in the winter, everything feels so difficult. Whether it is as simple as showering or just doing enough not to fail my classes.”
Out of the students surveyed, 80 percent say that the winter months affect their work ethic, and 90 percent agree that their teachers do not understand their decline in work ethic and motivation.
Which some may say can lead to more stress for the students. “It’s important for teachers to talk openly with students about mood and mental health. They need to acknowledge that teens aren’t just ‘lazy’ or ‘not putting in effort’ – most teens have a lot they are balancing and juggling in their lives – empathy and compassion for that goes a long way,” Herek said. Something as small
as extending a due date may help someone struggling drastically, or even sending an email expressing concern if you notice someone’s grade drastically dropping. Something to note if you are experiencing S.A.D, is the amount of help you can receive. “It’s important to be open and honest with trusted friends and adults. Talking aloud about your mood struggles will bring empathy and understanding to your life and relationships,” Herek said.
Although some may not have understanding parents, trusted adults could be someone like a teacher, a relative, a friend’s parents, or a school counselor. Central is full of amazing counselors who would love to help you anyway they can. Other students recommend listening to music, journaling, reading a good book, working out, staying busy, and surrounding yourself with good