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  • Darya Filippova

Combating SAD at Walls

The next few weeks are some of the toughest of the year on students’ moods: school feels never ending, the sky is gray, and there’s little sun. In fact, the winter blues are so common they have a formal name: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms can include low energy, a disturbance in sleeping patterns, and a sense of sadness or hopelessness.


SAD is visible in the Walls community during this time of year. School psychologist Dr. Lori McDowell has observed a change in student behavior, especially after daylight savings time began. “I have seen increased sadness, fatigue, and changes in sleep cycle or general sleep disturbances,” she said.


Dr. McDowell characterized this as an impact of SAD. When the sun sets before 5:00 p.m. and temperatures are low, people feel more tired. Changes in sleep cycles often fuel negative moods as the body requires a specific amount of rest to feel energized. To combat this fatigue, Dr. McDowell advises students to “recognize the changes in your body” by eating balanced meals, managing a regular sleep schedule and participating in self care activities. Additionally, Walls has multiple supports in place to help struggling students.


SAD can make it difficult for students to complete assignments. To help with this struggle, Walls has designated times for additional student support. Available from Monday to Friday, Walls’ after-school study hall is a place for students to work on assignments independently or in small groups. Students can access the study hall in room 130 from 3:45-4:45 p.m.


Walls also has a lunch time study hall to give students time to work during the school day. It's a great support for students with after school activities such as sports or clubs. Lunch time study hall is available from Monday to Friday in room 322 during lunch one and room 202 during lunch two.


Penguin Minds Matter (PMM), a club developed to reduce stigma surrounding mental health at school, hosts meetings where students discuss mental health and participate in stress relief activities. PMM meets from 8:25-8:55 a.m. in room 404 on Wednesday mornings.


Finally, Dr. McDowell, based in room 123, is always open to help anyone who is struggling.

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