When the clocks turn back on Sunday, I celebrate the extra hour of sleep — until the sun goes down at what feels like the middle of the afternoon. It is easy to fall into a slump during this time of year, so here are a few ways to find some extra happiness in the midst of the darkest days of the year.
1. Be intentional about sunshine
With shorter days, it is essential to be intentional about getting enough sunshine. I am certainly guilty of neglecting getting my dose of vitamin D, but whenever I intentionally spend a few extra minutes outside, I notice a distinct difference in the way I feel physically and mentally. This can be as simple as walking a slightly different route to class to spend more time in the sun or taking a lunch break outside. Getting sun indoors is also possible — you can soak up with sun by sitting on the large New Cabell Hall windowsills.
2. Keep your eyes on the prize — Thanksgiving and winter break is closer than you think
Dark and cold weather combined with the impending stress of finals can feel like a lot to carry. The key, however, is remembering how much of the semester you have already survived. Pull out your calendar, and you might be surprised that Thanksgiving break is closer than you imagine. Making it to Thanksgiving break is a major milestone in the semester and often the hardest part of the semester in my opinion — there are just about 3 weeks left. Take some time now to plan out what you could bring to a Friendsgiving — I know that I am looking forward to a lovely slice of apple pie.
3. Indulge in your favorite Starbucks holiday menu item
If you are anything like me, the launch of the Starbucks holiday menu and the holiday cups is a holiday in itself. The menu became available Thursday and it is certainly a marker for the beginning of the holiday season for me. Maybe the days are shorter and the weather is colder, but you can sip on a Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte — which is my favorite holiday Starbucks holiday beverage — a much-appreciated consolation prize in the midst of daylight savings.
4. Put up festive holiday lights
There might not be much natural light outside after 5 p.m., but that does not mean there must be total darkness, either — you can put up holiday lights on your balcony, a railing or even inside your own apartment or dorm. My favorite activity near this time of year is going to see all of my neighbors' holiday lights and decorations.
5. Plan at least one small thing a week to look forward to
Daylight savings can definitely take a toll on my motivation. Planning something each week that I can look forward to helps propel me through the long weeks. This can be meeting up for lunch with a friend you want to catch up with, or it can be as simple as planning time to watch your favorite show. The little things can add up to make a big difference in your overall mood.
6. Early sunsets mean an excuse to have a cozy night in
While making plans that you look forward to can be one way of combating the daylight savings blues, staying in for a cozy night alone with your favorite blanket and favorite beverage is also equally as fulfilling for me. I find it more enjoyable to have a quiet and peaceful evening when it is cold and dark outside, so turn the downside of daylight savings into a positive by fueling your need for time to recharge. Bonus points for watching a holiday movie — I know I will be rewatching “Home Alone” for the millionth time.
7. Try an indoor workout class
If you typically like taking walks or going on runs in the evening but the cold and dark evening weather is a deterrent, it is the perfect opportunity to switch up your workout routine with an indoor workout class. Virginia Recreation offers a variety of group fitness classes like yoga, cycling, zumba, barre and even aqua jogging. University students can access these classes for $7 for a single class or $20 a month for unlimited classes.
8. Make plans for a Friendsgiving or a holiday gift exchange
While some people may detest daylight savings, it does mean that the holidays are coming. Make fun plans with a few friends to host a Friendsgiving before leaving for Thanksgiving, or make plans to have a holiday gift exchange before the end of finals. Having an exciting holiday-related event on your calendar can make getting through the early sunsets a bit easier.
9. Find a new series to get lost in
I am no stranger to loving a good comfort watch. When the last thing you want to do is go outside, escape to a different world with the comfort watch of your choice. After hearing everyone rave about "The White Lotus", I think it is time for me to finally give this series a go — who doesn’t like Jennifer Coolidge? Make a plan to watch the series with your friends or roommates, making it both more enjoyable and creating a group of people to talk about your predictions and thoughts about each episode.
10. When all else fails — remember you are not alone
Although this is so cliché, I feel it is important to say it over and over again — especially because I know how lonely life at the University can feel at times. While the semester might feel hectic, the days are shorter and you might just want to skip ahead to the holidays, know that you are not alone in this struggle, and we can get through it together. Take a chance and reach out to a friend you have not seen in a while to meet for a coffee — you never know how much it could mean to someone.