Figure 1: Winter Blues, Exams, and Pandemic (Source: Unsplash)
You may think that it is not the right time to talk about winter while it is spring when this article is published. Winter is actually a long way to go, but I think you need to consider some things to prepare before it approaches. So, what is actually happening during the winter? I let you know about my very own winter experience in Lund, especially during the ongoing pandemic.
Winter Blues: Why is it that bad?
Figure 2: Winter Blues (Source: Unsplash)
As a person who used to live in a tropical country, I understand that most of us are excited to see the snow and frozen water in the lake, river, or even sea. However, winter is not all about the climatological phenomenon that you need physical preparation such as winter kits and gears. Winter can also drain your mental well-being!
During the winter, the short exposure to sunlight triggers your body to produce less serotonin (a hormone which affects your appetite, sleep, and mood), resulting in a feel of disorganized and your emotion sometimes out of your control. If you undergo those things, you may consider yourself being affected by ‘winter blues,’ a condition in which you may feel lethargic and sad.
Feeling lonely and lazy to do any job are two common indications of winter blues happening among my peers during the winter. Little did we know, it was actually some of the minor symptoms of winter blues. Furthermore, these gloomy feelings may be followed by depression, common in SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Well, I think its name has told us everything. Winter blues are no joke. In the worst case, this disorder also triggers people to think about suicidal thoughts.
Eventually, how to cope with the winter blues? Most Indonesian students living in Sweden suggest keeping in touch with others as the best way to cope with this condition. Reaching your friends out to ask about their condition or having a conversation with your corridor mates can help you feel better. Not only does being approachable and affective help you cope with this seasonal disorder, but it also helps others who are also suffering from the same problem.
In addition, you can also utilize your campus facilities to help you escape from the winter blues because the campus usually offers some health services regarding this issue. You can contact the responsible coordinator whenever you feel that the winter blues have permeated your life. They would be happy to help you. If something goes badly, they will refer you to the city health center to consult with a clinical psychologist or doctor.
Lastly, do not forget to consume vitamin D and do exercise! The sunlight exposure is so low that your body needs vitamin D and some exercises to help elevate your mood and strengthen your bone and teeth. Likewise, suppose you also have a significant problem with coldness, such as allergy. In that case, you also need to consume other medicines accordingly.
Exam: overcoming procrastination
Figure 3: Studying for exams during winter (Source: Unsplash)
Almost every student is not a big fan of exams, no matter what forms of the exam they are. To make it worse, exams are usually taking place during the winter period. You can imagine how hard it is to survive the winter blues and feel anxious for the exams at the same time.
As I mentioned above, winter blues can give you the feeling of moodiness as well as laziness. You just want to lay on your bed all day long, do nothing, and just scroll on your social media. The sense of neglecting your responsibility is getting higher and higher during this time. Therefore, you could be procrastinating a lot.
There is no better way to cope with procrastination than getting up from bed and starting doing the work. You should organize your study schedule to focus on your study and achieve your intermediate study goal. However, whenever you feel demotivated, you can ask your friends to be your study buddies. Both of you can remind each other to go back to study if you feel lazy. You can also use the Pomodoro technique to help you manage the study organization. It will help you feel more concentrated so that you do not feel asleep and exhausted while studying.
Additionally, you can also get off from procrastination by changing your study environment. I really can relate if you are studying in your bedroom. You just want to be in bed because its gravity is so hard to resist. That is why you need to move to work somewhere else. You can start by working in your living room, café, library, or campus. One only note is that you find some quiet places that do not distract you from doing your assignments.
In one other case, you may not procrastinate while studying for exams, but you may be pushing yourself too hard for that. Therefore, you feel more anxious and worrisome, resulting in a ruined sleeping schedule and body ache. To accommodate that, take a Swedish ‘lagom’ as your takeaway—just the right amount! Work-life balance is an essential part of Swedish culture, so do not overwork yourself. Therefore, you need good time management to boost your productivity yet not overdoing your work.
Pandemic: stay safe and stay sane
Figure 4: Work at home (Source: Unsplash)
Having winter blues and exams simultaneously is already a considerable problem. Still, the emerging of the ongoing pandemic has exacerbated it to a higher degree. Honestly, I do not want to scare you about this reality, but keeping your sanity is as pivotal as keeping you safe from virus infection.
I do not think I have enough to say about how to be safe in the time of a pandemic. Therefore, I suggest you follow the government’s guidelines strictly since they are more responsible and credible in this regard. However, I understand that some feel it is unfair since we have an exam, suffering from the winter blues, and being in lockdown. In this predicament time, all the tips I told you earlier may not be in accordance with the current situation. It must be stressful and depriving your sanity. Fret not! You are not alone in this, and many people are also suffering from the same problem as you.
Sometimes, spending time alone in the room during the pandemic made me feel homesick, not to mention when I got the winter blues symptoms. However, the development of technology has made everything to be digitized, even before pandemics. You can make use of Zoom, WhatsApp, or Skype for many purposes. I usually contact my family back home using WhatsApp whenever I feel homesick. I ask about my family’s condition, and sometimes I ask for some food recipes that will be good to be served during winter. It helped me a lot to get out of the sadness and loneliness during quarantine.
During the exam weeks, my classmates also arranged a virtual study group on Zoom. The rule is simple, you just need to switch on your camera and turn off your microphone. Then, you just do your assignments while others also do the same thing. You and your friends can set up how long the time for working and for taking a break. This method will make you feel under surveillance so that you are stimulated to do your work persistently. As a result, you are being more productive, while you can also keep in touch with your friends at the same time.
Of course, winter blues and exams are super demanding, not to mention the ongoing pandemic that has changed everything. Some activities must be adjusted accordingly, including coping with the winter blues and studying for exams. At the end of the day, although the pandemic has altered our lifestyle significantly, it does not change the fact that we are all humans who need support from each other.
Cheers, and stay hydrated!
Hamzah Dzikri Fadliansyah
MSc in Media and Communication Studies
Editor: Mochamad Sunaryadi
Meta desc: Winter blues are no joke! Find out more about how to cope with winter blues and exam anxiety during the ongoing pandemic.