The news site of West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch, CA

The Paw Print

The news site of West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch, CA

The Paw Print

The news site of West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch, CA

The Paw Print

Seasonal depression: dealing with mental health in the winter


   Seasonal depression: a term often described as a change in mood triggered by a change in seasons. For most, the cold fall and winter months usher in a bout of seasonal depression that lingers until spring. And while the idea of seasonal depression has been made out by movies and media to simply mean a dislike of cold weather, it’s important to note that especially as the seasons change, depression is a real illness that plagues the minds of many students.

   Miss Sinclair, the Wellness Center Director at West Ranch, explained the importance of being educated about mental health: “It’s super important because it brings more awareness for everyone to understand and have a better concept on what mental health is and how we can help support it.”

   As we emerge from the latest stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health remains a huge topic of discussion. The mental health awareness movement that took place during the pandemic has since found its way to West Ranch’s campus. The Wellness Center, Resource Center, and our school counselors are all trustworthy outlets where students can go in order to unload their mental burdens. 

   Even though the lockdown shed light upon the importance of mental health, many students continue to neglect their well-being. West Ranch Resource Center Director Miss Tabitha Ostrowsky, who is known as Miss Tabitha around campus, discussed how some students disregard their mental health because “sometimes people may think that it’s something that doesn’t happen, or that people think talking about mental health is something that you shouldn’t talk about.”

   The somewhat elusive topic of mental health affects people in many different ways. While underclassmen may have anxiety towards final exams, upperclassmen may feel stressed due to standardized testing and college applications. Regardless of how seasonal depression manifests itself in the student body, all of us must take the proper measures to prepare and remedy.

   “Mental health is really the foundation for all health,” Miss Tabitha emphasized. “Mental health is the root of all things. By spreading awareness it makes talking about mental health more acceptable, and by doing so, it opens up doors for people to seek the help that they need free from judgment.”

   West Ranch AP Psychology teacher Mr. Varner described, “I’ve often found that if you can get ahead of depression, it will alleviate, although not get rid of, all symptoms. A lot of different things like proper diet, getting enough sunlight—real sunlight—being outside, spending time alone, learning how to decompress your mind and unplugging from technology.”

   Especially as students push themselves to their limits, it’s important to keep in mind that high school is not purely academic. With the pressure of getting into a good college and stretching yourself thin over extracurricular activities and tough classes, mental health often takes a backseat.

   “Don’t forget to remember to take a moment for yourself, to do something fun, to hang out with friends because that’s just as important as getting your assignments done,” Wellness Center Steering Committee president Aniyah Graham explained. “If you start to just focus on all of the tasks and not give yourself the chance to breathe, it’s going to become too overwhelming and you’re not going to be able to get through any of it.”

   Especially for high school students, sleep often becomes synonymous with optional. While the need to finish homework may seem overwhelming at times, depriving your body of sleep will only add to the stress. Mr. Varner noted how the “Number one thing that you need to do is get more sleep. Prioritize sleep. Sleep is the most important thing you can do for your overall immune system as well as your mental health. Everything else is temporary, but you’ve got to focus on sleep.”

   Although it may be the last thing on your mind, mental health must be prioritized. Taking time for yourself, away from schoolwork and technology, will allow you to make sure that you’re truly feeling okay. Whether it’s an hour or even ten minutes a day, spending time alone and learning to manage a busy schedule will aid in your journey of self-care and appreciation.

   The winter months do not have to constitute a lull in productivity or motivation. With the right preparations such as good time management techniques and seeking help when needed, the worst symptoms of seasonal depression can be alleviated.

   Students can find the physical and emotional support necessary by reaching out to a trusted adult or by taking time off to focus on themselves. Resources such as the Wellness Center and school counselors are also easily accessible on West Ranch campus if needed. As Miss Sinclair noted, “be kind to yourself and continue to be kind to one another.”

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Alice Xie
Alice Xie, Editor-in-Chief and Op-Ed Editor
Alice Xie is a senior at West Ranch going into her fourth and final year of The Paw Print. Alice will be taking on the responsibilities of Editor-in-Chief while juggling the time commitment it takes to play competitive ice hockey. In the little time she has outside of school and hockey, Alice can be found rifling through the pantry for snacks, attempting to fix her precarious sleep schedule, or enduring a self-inflicted cycle of stressing about the things she's procrastinated on and then proceeding to procrastinate on her stress. In her last year, Alice looks forward to attending school events and making new friends. And maybe, if time and mental stability permit, she'll learn how to drive.