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Tips to Survive a Montclair State Winter

by Vanessa Galarza

Let’s admit it; this semester had a brutally cold start. The campus was covered in icy snow on the first day of classes. The holiday magic is gone, you are dressing for survival and you regret not dropping that one class.

Getting through the winter might seem like a daunting task right now, so here is a list of five tips to survive a Montclair State University winter.

Tip #1: Attend a Free Fitness Class

Going to class in February is hard enough, so imagine the willpower it takes to get up and exercise in the gym! Especially with the New Year’s resolution crowds hogging up the treadmills, exercising is simply less appealing in the colder months.

However difficult, staying active is necessary for wintertime survival. Here is why:

Laying in bed and avoiding responsibilities may cause a dopamine release in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that instantly responds to stimuli that feel good in the moment. However, the effects of dopamine fade quickly, and being lazy all day could make you feel worse and more unmotivated overall.

On the other hand, serotonin is a more long-term “happiness chemical.” Maintaining healthy levels of serotonin promotes long-term feelings of happiness and confidence. Exercise is a key component for serotonin to function properly in the brain.

Therefore, staying on top of your physical health is key for thriving through the winter blues up until springtime. Pay a visit to the Student Recreation Center and check out their free Group X Fitness Classes. The best way to warm up this winter is to sweat!

Classes include pilates, kickboxing, total body conditioning, and more. For the spring 2024 Group X class schedule, click here.

Tip #2: Beat Boredom and Attend an On-Campus Event

Nobody talks about it, but wintertime can be extremely boring. It gets dark by 5 p.m., making 8 p.m. feel like the new midnight. In addition, the lack of sunlight boosts melatonin in our brains, turning us into sleepy zombies.

Having fun plans with friends perks most people up after a day of classes. But New Jersey in January offers little fun besides the occasional trip to the movies.

Luckily, if you are reading this, you likely attend Montclair State University, so you will never have to be bored in the winter again. Grab some friends and hit up some campus events.

Here are a few events coming up this week:

  • Gaze at gorgeous student artwork at the opening reception of the Juried-Wide Student Exhibition at Finley Gallery on Jan. 31.
  • Kickback and enjoy some tunes at the Cali Midweek Concert: Strings and Guitar Concert in Chapin Hall on Jan. 31.
  • Jazz it up with your buddies at Saxophone Night 2024 in Chapin Hall on Jan. 31.

For more exciting campus events to get you and your friends out of your rooms, click here.

Tip #3: Warm up Your Hands with a Hot Drink on Campus

Enjoying a steamy cup of your favorite drink is a great way to combat the symptoms of wintertime. The parking decks and residence halls can be a far walk from your classes, so holding a drink will warm you up, especially if you forgot your gloves.

Drinking tea with a little honey is a soothing strategy to combat any sniffles or coughs brought on by cold weather. Coffee is an energizing staple for lots of college students, and hot chocolate is simply delicious.

There are tons of spots on campus to find your next favorite drink. Here are some student favorites:

  • Java Love at the C-Store in the Student Center
  • Dunkin’ in Blanton Hall
  • Panera Bread in Cole Hall
  • University Hall Cafe in University Hall

Tip #4: Create a Campus Winter Bucket List

As children, waking up to a snowy day was an immediate source of happiness. We had time off from school and played outside all day. But as adults, the snow does not have quite the same charm. Cleaning icy snow crust off your car at 7 a.m. in the cold is not exactly the best way to start the day, or a new semester.

Luckily, the campus at Montclair State has plenty of space for you to enjoy being a kid again and embrace the snowy weather. Create a winter bucket list to enjoy chilly weather in the early spring semester.

Some ideas for your bucket list:

  • Find a patch of open snow and create snow angels.
  • Bring your club or campus organization to the Student Center Quad and arrange a competitive snowball fight!
  • Brighten a student or staff member’s day by building a snowman by the front entrance of any campus building.

Prefer to stay warm indoors? Click this link for a YouTube tutorial on how to make beautiful paper snowflakes as gifts for family and friends. Each one is unique!

Tip #5: Reach Out for Support

Your parents might call you lazy for using the winter blues as an excuse for not feeling your best, but it is a real mental health phenomenon. It is scientifically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD affects over three million Americans a year.

Symptoms of SAD include fatigue, social withdrawal and feelings of hopelessness. This is thanks to the chemical imbalances caused by reduced exposure to sunlight. It can cause feelings of depression, and heighten the symptoms of many other pre-existing mental health illnesses.

If you find yourself struggling, worry not. There are countless mental health resources available on campus, including;

  • UWill, a free teletherapy service available to all Montclair State students
  • Group counseling offered by Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
  • Free mental health screenings
  • Alcohol and other drug counseling

For a full list of mental health resources at Montclair State, click here.

Hopefully, these tips will help you feel your best as you power through the winter months. The best kind of Red Hawk is a healthy Red Hawk! Take care of yourselves and stay warm. Sunnier days are just ahead!

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