Last year, snow obliterated Boston, setting a new record of 110.5 inches (or as like to call it 2.8 me). Due to the unfortunate choices I made a year before that record-breaking snowfall, I, along with over 250,000 other college students, was stuck in Boston with seemingly nowhere to go. Being out of my element and dealing with the adjustments of freshmen year, as well as an unfair amount of snow day homework, I did not venture outside but once during the “Snowmageddon,” which brings me to point #1.
#1 Go Outside.
Here’s the thing, you have to do it eventually. If you’re someone who loves the outdoors like I am, I urge you to love every season, even if you hate it. Go outside for five minutes just to see the sky and breathe real air. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. Remember this: a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest. Doing nothing on a three-snow-day-streak is just going to make it that much harder to get back out there and continue with your life once school starts again. Plus, it makes coming back inside so much sweeter, and the entire situation you’re in so much easier.
If I had played in the snow like a child I would have been better off, but due to my campus environment, there were very few people around in the first place, let alone a way to know if people were going outside, so my next piece of advice is more advice in general but it doesn’t hurt here, either.
#2 Don’t be Afraid to Do Things Alone
Too many times did I refrain from something because i didn’t have anyone to go with. In this context, I did a lot of staying inside because that’s what my roommates were doing. In any season, even a nice walk by yourself is relaxing and most importantly, healthy. Go to events, even by yourself, and especially in this weather. To survive winters as brutal as the one I experience you have to stay busy and you have to stay away from your dimly lit, one windowed dorm room.
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects way too many people for anyone to think it reasonable to sit in the dark for days on end. Regardless of S.A.D., a lack of vitamin D can cause a depressed mood in anyone, just like a lack of human interaction can. So, to summarize the small list we have already compiled: go outside, and do so alone if you have to. Let’s move on.
#3 Cook for Yourself and Others
In a wicked snowfall of 110.5 inches, things are bound to get cancelled and sometimes outside is not an option. So how can I feel healthier, support a normal lifestyle, and see people you ask? Well, here is the answer. Cook some damn good food for you and your friends. This way you’re not alone (or surrounded by the same heads with iPads for faces as you usually are). On a snow day, this is a great activity because it gets everyone out of their rooms and gives them a chance to be a part of something; and fresh, hot food is the best feeling every when you’re freezing and starting to come down with whatever illness everyone else on the floor is getting. Pick a dish rich in veggies and protein and is simple to make. You can even order the ingredients using a grocery app like Instacart or an order-ahead service, that way you don’t have to be outside that long, especially if it’s terribly cold. Lucky for me, I was in the heart of Boston, so finding a store wasn’t hard. I can image real campuses have places you can trek to if you need a tomato or something, and frankly if they don’t maybe they should (but in all seriousness, you should be able to ask for certain things from your dining hall if you have no other access to them on campus).
Among these great things to do, I have to mention and therefore begin on my next point
#4 Do Not Fall Behind
Listen, if you’re staying active (getting out of bed and walking farther than the bathroom is more than I did), eating healthy, and engaging in the real world a couple of times a day, you should be fine staying on top of your work. In my experience two things make it hard to be a student: having too much fun, and not having enough fun. Now, it’s my opinion that there is no way to have “too much” fun during a snow day. I just don’t like snow but, hey, maybe you do. Here’s your warning: stay on top of your work. And, as always, if you’re struggling with what you think may be Seasonal Affective Disorder or are having trouble managing school work for any reason, seek guidance.
I do think that there is a key difference between the college snow day and the high school snow day that needs to be pointed out. In high school, we had off and that meant we had off. I did do a lot of homework on snow days but mainly because they were called the night before and I decided not to do my work then, also I was in all AP classes a decision I now regret because everyone and their mother was enjoying hot chocolate, pizza, a Disney movies while I was studying some dumb war. Nonetheless, college loves to assign you snow day work. Yes, assign more work because of the snow day. It’s crazy, but be ready. When this happens please refer to tip number five.
#5 Make Your Room a Study Sanctuary
I thoroughly believe this is something everyone should do all the time. Your space should be comfortable and calming enough for you to be able to enjoy whatever you’re doing in it, even if it’s some extensive Biology. Investing in a nice scented candle or two, especially the three-wick room filling candles can help transform a room. Keeping it clean is important as well. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed I suggest cleaning your room, lighting a couple of candles, and sitting down with a cup of whatever you want (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, red wine, whiskey, etc.) and the work you have to get done. It makes work relaxing, keeps you busy for a bit, and opens up the room to give you more space to breathe. This will (hopefully) end that stir-crazy feeling that comes at a different time for everyone, but for me is about 2 full days without real sunlight.
On that note I also suggest buying a Happy Light, made for Seasonal Affective Disorder but a benefit for anyone, especially in extreme winter weather.
My last point is a little against the grain. I’ve been giving you ways to fight the winter blues, but now I am going to give a very contradicting piece of advice that I know deep down makes sense I just can’t really explain where. But here we go.
#6 Give Up.
You can’t change the weather, so rather than being stressed, or sad, or frustrated, just give up. It’s going to end eventually no matter how many times you think “I am going to DIE in this room.” So, cuddle up with a book (and maybe it’s not the book you have to read for class, who cares) and enjoy your snow day the way you want to. I don’t think even Boston will get that kind of multi-day snowplosion ever again, so don’t worry too much about planning out your work and your meals and your exercise. At least for the first snow day, give yourself a break, and maybe go outside if you want to, I can’t tell you what to do.
These are just a couple of things I wish I knew during my freshmen year at college, and I am so glad I know them now, despite probably never needing to use them again. But I swear, if I ever have the misfortune of experiencing another ridiculous winter like the one I did last year, I will one hundred percent be bundled up (and suncreened up because the snow reflects UV rays) and snowshoeing all over town, buying groceries to make myself an amazing dinner while I watch Wet Hot American Summer for the 15th time. Actually, scratch that, I’m pretty sure a summer movie would bum me out, but I can’t seem to think of a winter movie I like that isn’t more dismal than 2.8 me of snow. Luckily I have some time to think about it.