Finals are over, I’m back home and couldn’t be happier.
Let’s face it, university (specifically Western) culture can be exhausting. London, Ontario can seem extremely small; with nightlife seemingly being the only attractive feature for students alike, you can feel trapped. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t really feel “FOMO”. In high school and my first two years at Western, I’d try to go to anything and everything, feeling lonely if I ever missed out. I’ve been so happy this year devoting my time to the school, the sorority, and my other extra-curriculars. When I do go out with my friends the time is a lot more cherished and meaningful.
Sunshine + Mental Health?
Something about being home which most of my friends don’t understand is how sunny Calgary is. It’s constantly rated the sunniest city in Canada and the only major city in Canada to average nearly 2400 hours of sun a year. I find the gloomy skies of London and Ontario abroad to be so depressing. Even though Calgary has the coldest winters of Canada (don’t fight me on this), it’s ALWAYS sunny.
I’m not one to self-diagnose, as I hate when people over exaggerate mental health issues without proper diagnosis, but I definitely felt symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. People who are more susceptive to this disorder are: women, people who move from one environment to another with differing levels of sunshine (me), an people between the ages of 15 and 55.
TLDR: SAD is real.
SAD is a type of major depressive disorder, and sufferers may exhibit any of the associated symptoms, such as feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, loss of interest in activities, withdrawal from social interaction, sleep and appetite problems, difficulty with concentration and decisions, a lack of energy, or agitation. Symptoms of winter SAD often include oversleeping or difficulty waking up in the morning, nausea, and a tendency to over eat, often with a craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain. SAD is typically associated with winter depression, but springtime lethargy or other seasonal mood patterns are not uncommon. Although each individual case is different, in contrast to winter SAD, people who experience spring and summer depression may be more likely to show symptoms such as insomnia, decreased appetite and weight loss, and agitation or anxiety.
For the upcoming school year, I really am going to make sure I prioritize my mental health. I am planning on speaking to someone regarding this, as well as have spent time researching “Light Therapy.”
Look Good, FEEL GOOD
Another perk of being home is falling into my fitness routine. Definitely at school I didn’t keep a proper exercise routine. Luckily for me I have a gym in my home which really makes morning workouts easy, as well as have a hot yoga and spin studio close by. “Not only does exercise tone your body, it strengthens your muscles, keeps your bones strong, and improves your skin. And there are more benefits of exercise — increased relaxation, better sleep and mood, strong immune function, and more.” (Mayo Clinic) Obviously that information seems basic to most, but it’s easily disregarded or forgotten.
Another great perk of being home is having a routine diet. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 9 years old, so having my mom cook plant based food everyday really helps me eat right. With all the stress of finals, I was ordering pizza and snacking WAY too often; it feels great to finally focus on eating clean.
I’ve also been focusing on my hydration. I really don’t drink enough water, so I’ve been monitoring my water intake. I get bored of water (lol) so I’ll try to be fancy and add a lemon or some cucumbers. I also am OBSESSED with Pure Leaf’s ‘Unsweetened Iced Tea’. With 0 calories, this drink is SO refreshing, and you won’t find yourself “drinking your calories” as my mom says.
All in All
My home environment really relaxes me and provides me with motivation to be the best “me”. I definitely struggle being alone sometimes and away from my family/home. Since most Western students are from the GTA, they can easily go back home to see their family on weekends; being so far apart can be difficult.
HOWEVER, I really plan on putting myself first in NYC. I’m going to prioritize my mental and physical health, and make the most out of this amazing experience.
18 days ’till I arrive!
I can’t wait to blog my adventure 🙂
*Special shout out to Nicole Nesci, happy birthday beautiful.