Suzanne Buchholz, Senior Reporter
After a long winter that brought freezing temperatures and a snowfall heavy enough to close Pierce College Puyallup for almost a week, students might be more than ready to embrace a new season.
Spring officially started on Mar. 20, and with it should come increased temperatures and brighter days. But Washington doesn’t usually cooperate.
It’s been spring for two months, but the weather makes it feel as though it’s still winter. Although the snow has finally stopped in the region, the rain refuses to let up.
In only one day in March, SeaTac received almost four inches of rain, which is about as much as it typically gets for the entire month, according to The News Tribune.
Seattle broke the record for most wet days from October 2016 to March 2017, accumulating a whopping 43 inches of rain, according to KOMO News (the old record, from 1950-1951, was 41 inches). These reports don’t exactly give one hope for outdoor picnics or beach days anytime soon.
The weather, cold and gray as it is, could have an impact on students’ moods. Research has revealed connections between bad weather and depressed feelings.
The lack of light on rainy days messes with serotonin signals to the brain, which can cause one to feel sad and devoid of energy. The steady downpour of rain may also deter people from wanting to leave the house or prevent them from participating in certain outdoor activities, which could also contribute to these moods, according to an article on Healdove. These are all symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, essentially depression that only occurs or is worsened by certain times of year.
A lack of decent weather could drain students’ motivation to work, as they might feel hopeless, wondering whether the sun will ever come out. But daydreaming about nice, warm weather could have an opposite effect on students’ motivation as well.
Students could be distracted, thinking about upcoming vacation plans and the promise of the returning sun, losing focus on their studies as a result. On rare occasions where it does warm up before June, students might be more likely to spend their time outside than completing homework.
Reports on whether the weather really does impact students’ grades have been inconclusive, however, as the weather’s effect depends on the student.
What might help
Regardless of this, students can take steps to keep themselves focused on their studies while enjoying the sunshine or coping when it’s not here.
Students who might be suffering from SAD could try light therapy. This form of therapy involves purchasing a bright light box, which is a portable device that emits enough light to mimic a clear day outdoors.
The amount of time necessary for each session depends on the individual; a doctor can assess the needed dose, if required. Other options for treating SAD include using aromatherapy oils to stimulate certain parts of the brain that influence mood, getting regular exercise and writing in a journal to keep emotions and moods in check.
If a student doesn’t feel these methods are helping or if their condition might extend beyond SAD, they should consider seeing their doctor to determine what an effective treatment might be. If the condition is bad enough it could require antidepressants. Speaking to a counselor like those available on campus might help students as well.
Students feeling less focused on their work and more fixated on summer fun could try keeping themselves motivated by reminding themselves of their accomplishments and how close they are to finishing the quarter.
Keeping in mind all they’ve done so far and not wanting to sacrifice that so close to the end might encourage one to keep working instead of slacking. On those days when the sun does make an appearance, a student could try keeping themselves on track by planning something fun to do once their work is complete, or even enjoying the sun by studying outside.
Another option could be to participate in some of the events offered on campus, which allow a fun reprieve from studies and being involved in the school without being a major distraction. Events coming up range from trips off campus such as Wandering with Whales (a whale watching excursion) and Zips and Parsnips (where students can practice farming and try their hand at ziplining) to more local events such as discussions on topics affecting college students as well as the community.
Above all, students should try to make the most of their springtime, knowing that summer isn’t far off. They shouldn’t let this knowledge distract them from their studies but encourage them to keep it up and know they’ll soon have some freedom.
There’s always a bright side, even in spring showers.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost