Peers, staff offer support during slump

Mia Graske, Staff Writer

Every winter, students may lose motivation as the months seem to drag. This experience can be dubbed the winter slump.

School Counselor Michel Pawlak said, “It is a yearly slump we get after the holidays. I would say the end of January and February are the worst.” 

One cause of the slump is how the lack of sunlight tricks the brain, psychology teacher April Ott said.

Ott said, “Students can also get out of the slump by increasing serotonin and dopamine which are the brain’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals.”

A way to get serotonin and dopamine is through bright light exposure, whether natural light or light therapy boxes.

Another strategy to overcome the slump is by focusing on a different reaction.

Social studies teacher William Murphy said, “It’s not about what happened. It’s how you react to it, so what’s the next best thing you can do?”

The slump is temporary and ends when one sees more sun and spring weather.

Murphy leads Wellness Wednesdays on weekly announcements which provide advice to students in these temporary situations.

“I genuinely think if you take to heart what the message is guiding you towards, it can help you develop your toolkit for life,” Murphy said.

However, if the loss of motivation and negative feelings are not related to the weather,  students may want to seek emotional support.

Students can refer to the posters near the bathrooms about available resources including triangle teams of social workers, counselors, and deans.

Social studies teacher Ian O’Donoghue said, “When you’re not doing your homework and your grades start to fall, that’s when it becomes a problem. It’s not a problem unless it turns into a problem.”

Additional warning signs that signify one may require extra support include short temper and irregular changes, O’Donoghue said.

Other than staff members, students may seek emotional support from peers, such as Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and Mental Health Awareness Club.

GSA President Addison Murray, a senior, said, “Our door is always open… We are always here to talk to anybody if they’d like to.”

Pawlak said “These months are hard; they are. But we always get to March and April and May, and time goes on. We just need to hold on.”

If one is feeling down for little to no reason for longer than a couple of weeks, one may need more support.

When struggling, Murphy said it is important to remember there is hope.

“The night is darkest before the dawn. Typically when it’s real bad is when you’re about to hit a turnaround,” Murphy said.