The turn of the seasons always seems to come at the right time.
Almost overnight, libraries packed to the brim with overworked students become remotely empty, as students make their way outside after a seemingly never ending winter finally sees its last day.
Flowers begin to pop up in place of the snow-covered grounds that blanketed campus just weeks earlier.
The lightness and happiness that overtakes campus is evident as students take their study breaks playing frisbee on the front lawn, rather than taking to their rooms to watch another episode of their favorite Netflix series.
It seems as though everyone on campus has taken a breath of fresh air.
Science shows that this breath may be more literal than metaphorical, as research proves that the weather significantly impacts us emotionally.
Through developing research on Major Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which mirrors symptoms of depression and is most present during the winter months, we have grown to become more cognizant of the way that our surroundings can impact us mentally and emotionally.
“The lethargy and feelings of sadness and hopelessness that come when the weather forces people to spend more time indoors and the season provides little opportunity for exposure to natural light,” according to TIME. “Some people have speculated that our modern lifestyle, which keeps people indoors under artificial light for so many hours, may be encouraging a form of SAD year-round.”
The overwhelming joy that comes from being outside is not just due to the activities associated with warmer and sunny weather, but can also represent a chemical change in the brain that occurs as a result of the serotonin changes that occur from sunlight.
As students, we are constantly under the stress of impeding deadlines, many of which only increase as we approach the end of the academic year. As it is hard to find time to decompress throughout a busy day, just taking a few minutes to sit outside with a friend possesses the potential to revolutionize a mood and reboot.
The positive energy we take from time outside can translate to our studies, making the learning process both more enjoyable and more productive.
The Lehigh Valley possesses a plethora of opportunities to immerse in nature and celebrate the change of the seasons.
As home to a variety of botanical gardens and arboretums, our community has many hidden gems to be discovered once the sun comes out.
The turn of the season presents opportunities to get involved in the community around us and enjoy what is lost in the winter months. Lunches move from dining halls to Farrington Square, and study sessions move from the dark corners of the library to the UC front lawn.
Off-campus, students and community members can attend outdoor activities such as visiting the Easton River Overlook, seeing concerts at the Bethlehem SteelStacks or going on a walking tour of many of the sights that Historic Bethlehem has to offer.
Regardless of how you choose to spend the limited free time left in the school year, ensure to take time to appreciate the Lehigh community and all of its offerings.
As the stresses of the semester continue to heighten, grab a snack from the local farmer’s market, decompress outside and remember to take a breath of fresh air.