By Katherine Lovelidge
For some, fall means pumpkin spice and apple picking. But for others, fall signifies the onset of an often unacknowledged lack-of-summertime sadness.
It’s not uncommon for a drop in temperature and decrease in exposure to sunlight to result in a variety of symptoms including depression, anxiety, mood changes and sleep problems as the season transitions from summer to fall to winter.
The reason for these physical, mental and behavioral changes with the seasons is not entirely agreed upon by researchers.
Though there is a clinical diagnosis for what is referred to as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” – which affects approximately 6% of the United States population, most commonly those who live in colder climates – about 14% of the U.S. is estimated to suffer from the “winter blues,” exhibiting prevalent seasonal depressive symptoms.
For college students, especially in the northeastern U.S., the onset of symptoms like depression and sleep problems can cause serious complications to motivation for completing schoolwork, communicating with professors and even enduring previously enjoyable social situations.
Among recommendations such as exercising regularly, improving diet and spending some time in the sun (when it chooses to grace us with its presence), I contribute a personal favorite coping mechanism—an activity known as “Rose, bud, thorn.”
Otherwise known as a “high-low circle,” I was first introduced to this exercise while working as a camp counselor in Maine. At the end of the night, the counselors would gather the children to sit and listen as each person recounted a high of their day (the rose), a low (the thorn), and something they were looking forward to—the bud.
To dismiss the activity as silly is easy. But sitting and reflecting on your day sometimes does not prove to be so effortless.
Without a choice, I participated in this exercise daily for two months alongside kids that were sometimes alarmingly sad.
But in the time I spent counseling, many of them expressed that recounting the best parts of their day, without dismissing the bad, was a major camp highlight. From experience, I reached the same conclusion.
Kids that were homesick or felt excluded could not ruminate on deep negative feelings as they searched their brain for something they were excited for. For even just a moment or two, that weight was lifted.
Not every day is the same. Talking about the best and worst parts of each reminds you of this fact.
You don’t need to be formal about stating your daily rose, bud and thorn if you can’t help but cringe at how “elementary” the reflective exercise seems. It can be hard to get past the idea of having grown up.
But when the sky turns gray and the cold begins to bite, it’s important to remind yourself that some flowers can grow without sunlight.
Categories: Freeform, Uncategorized
Roses are deciduous in fall. Sometimes it hurts to let go of something finished blooming. Give yourself patience to grow again. Stay safe everyone.