The Daily’s guide to handling winter on campus


Isabelle Butera/The Daily Northwestern

The Wellness Center at Henry Crown Sports Pavilion offers White Light Therapy appointments and accepts walk ups or reservations online. Appointments are free to all students, faculty and staff.

Isabelle Butera, Reporter

As students trickle back to campus, some may have trouble coping with below freezing temperatures and a sun that sets before 5 p.m. 

Here’s how to prepare for the winter part of Winter Quarter. 

Managing the cold 

With a January average high temperature of 33 degrees Fahrenheit in Evanston, students from warmer climates should prepare to drastically switch up their wardrobes. 

Lifelong Chicago resident and Weinberg freshman Natasha Gonzalez said layering is key. 

“If you get a turtleneck and you put a shirt on top…you’ll be extra toasty,” she said. 

According to Gonzalez, winter essentials include boots, gloves, scarves and a coat. She said sweaters are especially helpful because crewnecks and hoodies are both stylish and convenient. 

SESP freshman Erika Vazquez, who was also born and raised in Chicago, emphasized the importance of good clothing — particularly shoes. 

“Be very careful when choosing what shoes to wear because it’s almost inevitable to slip on ice,” she said. “You can walk through the ice without falling but you have to be really careful.”

Vazquez also advised checking the weather daily and said to “cover everything,” warning that freezing temperatures and strong wind can cause a burning sensation on exposed skin. 

Dealing with the darkness 

In addition to cold weather, winter darkness can lead to feelings of exhaustion, sadness or lack of motivation. 

According to psychology Prof. Robin Nusslock, the shortened time between sunrise and sunset, or “photoperiod,” impacts the homeostatic drives that control emotions and mood. This creates greater susceptibility to sadness and depression, including Seasonal Affective Disorder, which Nusslock defines as a type of clinical depression triggered by the onset of winter.

In addition to traditional treatment methods for clinical depression such as behavioral therapy, white or blue light therapy — sitting for a short time in front of a lamp replicating sunlight — can combat the disrupting impact of shorter days.

“(White light therapy) actually has been shown to alter the circadian biology in a way that affects the release of melatonin, which is an important hormone in sleep biology, (to) regulate the circadian rhythm,” Nusslock said. “So that’s a very effective treatment.”

The Wellness Center at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion offers free white light therapy to all students and faculty Monday through Saturday. Students can call the Wellness Center or sign up online for appointments, which range from 15 to 60-minute increments during which students sit in a chair in front of the White Light. According to the Wellness Center’s Website, therapy is most effective in the morning and when done on a regular basis. 

Associate Director of Fitness and Wellness Nancy Tierney recommends white light therapy to all students. While it’s shown to alleviate symptoms of SAD, its effects of improved mood and increased energy can benefit anyone struggling with the lack of daylight. 

“It can lift your mood, It can help us sleep, it really benefits so many areas,” Tierney said. “During the winter months, especially here, we need a little supplemental (light) and it’s so easy.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @isabelle_butera

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