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ISSUE 121 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/16/2007

A Word from Our Editors: Stick it out

By Matt Tiano
Executive Editor

Friday, November 16, 2007

Someone once asked me if I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I looked up from my Caf tray, perhaps gave off a funny look, and said, "Why, don't you?"

I don't think that this relatively new diagnosis is aware that on the map, there is this place called Minnesota. How dare someone tell me that I am abnormal because 6 p.m. now seems like the ideal time to hit the sack after Daylight Savings Time (DST) recently ended. And how dare someone tell me that I'm abnormal for being affected by thirty mph winds in my face, forcing me to bolt to shelter (although running in place). Do you really want to say that "normal" people embrace sudden seasonal change? (For example, having to decide between a t-shirt one day or snowsuit the next. Case in point: Monday and Wednesday of this week?)

Then we realize we're students, stuck in the middle of paper after paper, exam after exam, meeting after meeting. Could perhaps the DST gods have planned their little holiday a bit better so that productivity levels don't take a huge hit post-6 p.m.?

This is the toughest part of the year, not only because of the bipolar weather, but also because this is when we begin to realize that the end is near. When Christmas Festival rolls around, and ticket sales are underway, that means that December is within reach. And because December is within reach, research papers aren't so far off in the distance and - oh wait - to do a research paper, research must begin.

October is optimistic, November is not. October brings fall colors, blankets in the Fireside and much procrastination. November brings gray skies and little hope for survival come December.

But wait...don't we always survive? Think back to last November and your "to do" list pre-December. Chances are, the list looked similar to what your current one looks like. Things just have a way of working themselves out. If we could walk around simply knowing that life will continue post-December, November would be that less stressful.

As for the seasonal change, I'm as disoriented as you are. I sit here writing this at 10:41 p.m., but I feel like it's 3 a.m. While everyone does in some way suffer from SAD, I don't mean to question the validity of the diagnosis. Some people are affected more than others, but as we hit crunch time in the semester, it is important to understand how to best counter the DST gods and the onslaught of wind chill and clouds.

As painful to your face as it may be, it is important to get outside, even in the deadliest of winter days. Exposure to daylight, even in the form of a 20 minute walk outside, can be extremely beneficial. Try to teach your body that daylight ends at 5 p.m. by maintaining a consistent meal and sleep cycle. Exercise as soon as you feel like hitting the sack early in the evening, even if it is just a quick study break to talk.

Above all, embrace others through this transition period. Ask for help if you are having trouble with trains of thought. And of course, take breaks for yourself. Get coffee. Hang out. Do what you do.

You'll soon realize that November is just another month.

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