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During winter months, shorter days, colder weather, and reduced hours of sunlight can leave anyone feeling melancholy, irritable, or tired. To combat these feelings—often referred to as the winter blues—studies have found that increasing light exposure is associated with higher levels of the hormone serotonin.

Here are ways you can increase your serotonin levels on campus:

  • Find a sunny spot on campus using the Sunny Spots Map.
  • Go outside. Bundle up and spend at least thirty minutes outdoors. Even on cloudy days, being outside can help increase your serotonin levels.
  • Exercise. Move your body for at least thirty minutes each day.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Keeping a normal sleep schedule will help to maintain consistent levels of serotonin.
  • Get Social. Stay connected with friends and family for support.
  • Eat Seasonal Foods. Many nutrients that your body lacks in the winter can be found in seasonal foods, like brightly colored vegetables and fruits.

It is important to contact a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder and other types of depression. If you think that you or someone you know is depressed, please contact UChicago Student Wellness for a confidential consultation at 773.834.9355.

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