Managing Your Seasonal Depression

After what most of us wish was an endless Summer, the majority of the contiguous U.S. turn their clocks back an hour for daylight saving time. Despite the initial feeling of gaining an hour of sleep, the sun setting at 3 or 4 PM often brings feelings of seasonal depression. This blog will explain what seasonal depression is, the signs and effects it has, and how to combat it.

What is seasonal depression?

Seasonal affective disorder (informally referred to as seasonal depression) is a form of depression that’s impacted by the change in season. In most cases, seasonal affective disorder occurs in the Fall and Winter months but can also emerge in the Spring.

According to Mayo Clinic, some of the symptoms of seasonal depression include:

  • Feeling depressed throughout the day on most days
  • Having lost interest in hobbies or activities you previously enjoyed
  • Feeling low energy
  • Changes in your sleeping habits (oversleeping or insomnia)
  • Feeling easily agitated
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Changes in your appetite

While these symptoms may overlap with those of clinical depression, seasonal depression often starts and ends around the same time each year. In contrast, major depression doesn’t have a “clear” cut off for when symptoms will end. Those that seasonal depression impacts may be able to easily identify it if it occurs persistently.

Causes and sources

Typically, seasonal depression is understood to be caused by the change in season, weather and amount of sunlight. However, some scientists believe that hormones are at play here. As stated by Web MD, chemicals such as serotonin and melatonin are impacted by the change in seasons.

During the Summer, when sunlight occurs throughout the majority of the day, your serotonin levels are more or less regular. Serotonin is a chemical hormone produced by the brain and it helps to regulate your mood and emotions. 

Due to the decrease in sunlight throughout the Winter months, your brain may make and release less serotonin. As a result, symptoms of seasonal depression such as feeling down, depressed or fatigued.

Another hormone that may cause seasonal depression is melatonin. Similar to serotonin, melatonin is a chemical hormone produced by the brain in response to darkness/nighttime. Ultimately, it helps to regulate your circadian rhythms or body’s internal clock. 

In the darker Fall and Winter months, your body slows its production of both of these hormones. Since it becomes darker earlier in the day, your body’s melatonin is released way sooner than normal. If you find yourself feeling exhausted before the workday even ends, this is probably why.

Additionally, the lack of sunlight reduces your serotonin levels. When combining the lack of serotonin with the reduced levels of melatonin, your brain reacts by feeling depressive emotions or thoughts.

Ways to manage seasonal depression

Coping with seasonal depression can seem difficult at first glance. However, there are 3 simple things you can do during your daily routine to mitigate some of the side effects. These include staying active through movement/exercise, eating foods that boost serotonin levels, and exposing yourself to as much light as possible.

Since some of the common side effects include feeling fatigued, lethargic, and low-energy including movement throughout your day can combat these feelings. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to start training to run long-distance (although, it’s a great form of exercise). Movement and physical activity include exercise like yoga or simply getting your steps in throughout the work day.

Food & seasonal depression

Another way to soften the side effects of seasonal depression is to include serotonin in your diet. According to Medical News Today, there are a number of foods and ingredients that contain tryptophan, an amino acid that assist in the formation of serotonin. These foods include:

A third effective method to cope with seasonal affective disorder is to invest in light therapy. By using a light box with a white or blue light bulb, your brain is directed to produce more serotonin as it believes it’s day time. Light boxes help to mimic outdoor light or sunshine with hopes of combating the side effects of seasonal depression.

If you are unable to invest in a light box, simply finding ways to expose yourself to sunlight will help mitigate the side-effects. Try waking up earlier, taking a morning or afternoon walk, or sitting outside on sunny days.

Seasonal depression is extremely common and you’re not alone in feeling this way during the Fall and Winter months. By listening to your body and recognising the symptoms, you are one step closer to finding coping mechanisms that work for you. Whether that’s eating foods that boost your serotonin, staying active, or reaching out to your doctor about light therapy – it is definitely possible to manage your seasonal depression. 

Easy Nutrition for High School and College Athletes

As summer comes close, every athlete knows that tryout season is near. After an enjoyable break, reality hits that you need to get back into peak physical fitness for your sport. As you start to prep your workouts and get yourself mentally prepared for the season, don’t forget about nutrition! As an athlete you feel like you can get away with eating whatever and however much you like because you burn it all off. But diet and nutrition has a much bigger impact on your performance on the field and off than you think. The good news is that nutrition for high school and college athletes is easier than you think.

With almost daily practices and games, you’re burning a lot of calories. You need to fuel your body to last all game long while giving it the nutrition it needs to build muscle. Male and female athletes can consume upwards of 3,000 calories per day to fulfill their caloric needs, especially if they’re still growing. It can be challenging to know how to spend all of those calories to get the quality fuel you need. Sometimes you’re running late for classes and need a protein packed on-the-go breakfast. Other times you come home from practice and don’t have the energy to put together a meal to replenish your carbohydrates.

Carbs are your BFF

Keto and low-carb diets have no place in the athletic world where carbs are king. You need carbs to give you the energy to achieve peak endurance and speed. Carbohydrates serve as the primary source of energy for all of your practices, games, and workouts. Your body changes carbs into glucose (AKA sugar) and stores it in your muscles to use for energy later on. An athlete’s diet should be 50-70% carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Whole grains are grains that are unrefined and therefore still have all of their nutrients. Choosing whole grain breads and pastas over refined grains will give you the boost in energy you need while boosting your protein intake for the day. One great way to get some whole grain carbohydrates into your day is by starting your mornings with an easy steel-cut oatmeal parfait with fruit.

Your vegetable intake should consist of a combination of starchy and non-starchy veggies. Starchy vegetables include potatoes, corn, peas, and beans. Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, and zucchini. You should aim for a total intake of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables for the day. The good news is that carbo-loading on pastas and veggies is easy and probably your favorite when it comes to nutrition for high school and college athletes.

Hydration, hydration, hydration

The beginning of the fall season can still be extremely hot in most parts of the country. When your body is not properly hydrated you risk poor performance, an injury, and in worse cases, your life. Hydration should be an all-day focus, not just while you’re at practice or during a game. Generally, athletes should divide their weight in half and drink that amount ounces of water every day.

You should begin practice or a game well-hydrated and continue to maintain hydration during exercise. All of that sweat that accumulates during playing can lead to 2-3% decrease in body weight from water. The general rule of thumb to follow is that if you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

For peak hydration and performance according to the NCAA, drink one 16 oz water bottle 2-3 hours before your exercise and one 8 oz glass of water 15 minutes before. During your practice or game you should be drinking 2-3 large gulps of water every 15-20 minutes. Sports drinks are a great hydration option as they replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes for athletes exercising for more than 60 minutes. Beware of added sugars though!

Powerful Proteins

High-quality proteins are a must when it comes to maintaining and building muscle for athletes. These include lean meats such as chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and edamame. An athlete requires upwards of 1.7 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. To get in your daily amount of protein, try to get protein in with every meal.

Getting protein in with every meal can be difficult if you’re busy between classes, studying, homework, practices, and games. Especially when it comes to a protein packed breakfast. Whether you need something quick before you catch the bus or only have access to a microwave in the dorms, you need something that is easy and packs the protein. Try keeping a breakfast burrito in your freezer for mornings like this.

Be cautious of consuming too much protein as it can cause damage to your kidneys and can lead to dehydration. Some protein powders and bars can be loaded with sugar and artificial additives to increase the amount of protein. The best way to increase your protein intake is a whole foods approach.

Superstar Snacking

The desire to snack all day is so real when your body is craving all those calories. We all know that your school’s vending machine doesn’t have the best options either. So instead of relying on an unhealthy snack that is probably filled with sugars and artificial flavors, try packing a snack.

Pack options like nuts, trail mix, granola bars, or dried fruits. Beware of products that are marketed towards athletes, jacked up with artificial proteins and sugars. Whole food options are best, try making your snacks at home or read the nutrition label and ingredients list if buying in-store.

Finicky Fats

Fats are a great source of energy for your body when it is running low on carbohydrates. As an athlete who’s diet is 50-70% carbs, a high fat diet is not recommended. Your regular intake of nuts, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fishes is plenty. Beware the eating fatty foods on the day of an important game or extraneous practice might make you feel sick.

Each athlete’s diet will vary depending on their sport, how often you train or play, and how long you’re exercising for. Listening to your body is just as important as maintaining your nutrition, you know your body better than anyone else does. Nutrition for high school and college athletes is not too different than someone who is lightly active, the main difference being an increased carbohydrate intake.

Avoid Overeating at the Dining Hall

Summer is flying by and college move-in day will be right around the corner before you know it. Whether you are a first year or transfer student it can be extremely daunting to navigate the dining halls. The majority of dining halls are all-you-can-eat buffet style or provide students with the ability to choose an unlimited meal plan. This means that students can eat multiple plates and enter the dining hall as many times as they desire. Just like other aspects of college life, it can be exciting to have a new sense of freedom. This is especially true when it comes to what you eat. If you are concerned about how to balance your meals and avoid overeating at the dining hall, make sure to check out our college hacks below!

Hack 1: Balance Your Plates

We get it – grabbing as many plates as you can to try new foods is super tempting. This is a very common habit among college students and can often lead to a lot of food waste. Instead of overloading your plates and piling them on at once, we suggest balancing your plates throughout your meals. For example, start with your fruits or veggies and the protein of your choice – this should be one plate. When you start with one plate, you will be working toward reducing food waste.

Additionally, you will be fueling your body with essential vitamin and nutrients first. This might fill you up quicker than you thought and help avoid overeating. If you are still hungry or want to try something new, try eating a small portion. By eating a smaller second plate, you will be giving your body time to digest what you just ate. This is extremely important to avoid overeating and listen to your body when it tells you it’s full.

Hack 2: Eye Your Options

Before settling on the first thing you see, walk around the dining hall and scope out what is being served that night. It might be tempting to grab couple slices of pizza but there might be a more filling and guilt-free option on the other side of the dining hall. Usually, dining halls serve up multiple starches for a single meal. We recommend seeing what carbs and starches are being served that night before you settle for one. This is extremely helpful if you follow a certain diet or are trying to be more mindful of what you are eating. By adopting this habit, you are one step closer to avoid overeating at the dining hall. Additionally, you will learn to customise your meals instead of settling for a food you do not want. If you go to a school with a larger dining hall, this tip is key to making sure you create a balanced plate with the foods you want to eat. This tip will also help you get a feel for portion sizes that work best for you.

Hack 3: Take Some For Later

This tip is great if you tend to snack late at night or if you get hungry easily. Usually, dining halls allow students to take fresh fruit or small baked goods back to their dorm. We recommend that you take full advantage of this! By taking some fruit, baked goods or smaller snacks back to your dorm, you will not have to spend money on going grocery shopping for snacks. Many studies have researched health benefits of healthy snacking. Specifically, fruit provides necessary vitamins and nutrients to your body and can reduce your risk for certain diseases. So, if you ever get hungry at night, you will have fresh produce on hand to munch on! This will help you avoid late night trips to the dining hall or ordering a pizza at 11 PM. That’s not to say you should not fuel your body late at night, but if you are a mindful eater, it does not hurt to have fresh fruit on hand! Not to worry if you ever overindulge, especially at night – there are ways to get back on track and continue aiming to avoid overeating at the dining halls.

Hack 4: Write Up a Plan

A more proactive way to avoid overeating at the dining hall is to form a meal plan.  Not every meal plan is going to be the same – we recommend creating a plan that is best for you. For instance, if you are looking for weight gain, you can create a plan that allows you to factor in more protein, fats or carbohydrates. The amounts of each will depend on your personal preference, diet, intake levels and appetite. You can do the same thing if you are working towards weight loss or low-carb meals. That is the best part of creating your own meal plan – you can tailor it any way you like. This is a good habit for students to adopt even if they do not follow a diet or have dietary restrictions. By mentally preparing yourself for the endless options of the dining hall, you will not feel as overwhelmed about deciding what to eat. Instead, you will feel prepared and empowered to tackle the dining hall and choose the best options for your body and goals.

Thankfully there are many tips to avoid overeating at the dining hall for college students. While all these tips might not be relevant to your eating habits or goals, there is a lot of freedom to decide what works best for you. It’s just a matter of time until you are comfortable getting into the swing of things in a new dining hall. Once you do, you will naturally find yourself adopting habits to avoid overeating and eating what makes you feel good!

How to Stock a Dorm Room Fridge

Ah, the infamous college dorm fridge. While it’s awesome to have access to a refrigerator, knowing how to stock a dorm room fridge can be hard. How come?

For one, it’s usually a mini fridge, meaning your space is limited. There’s a good chance you’re sharing it too, which leaves you only with enough room to stock the essentials. Or you could have access to a dining hall, in which case you might think the dorm room fridge is not necessary. Yet, the life of a college freshman can be stressful and unpredictable, so it’s best to be prepared for any unexpected food cravings once the dining hall is closed. Learn how to stock a dorm room fridge to prevent unwanted headaches, expanded waistlines, or an emergency call to Dominos.

With limited space and budget, let’s look at the best things to stock a dorm room fridge with.


Healthy Fridge Foods

Whether a full meal or a snack, here are the best things you can fit in a fridge to satisfy any craving!

Veggies to snack on. Stock your fridge with tasty vegetables that don’t take up a ton of room or require prep. Choose things like baby carrots, cucumbers, snap peas or cherry tomatoes. They’re great to snack on, are packed with good nutrients, and won’t take up a ton of space. They also will last a long while so you won’t have to worry about a super short shelf life.

Foods to fill you up. Sometimes you need a hearty snack that will keep you full while fighting a late-night deadline. If a craving strikes, choose a snack with a good amount of protein, like cheese strings, plain yogurt (hold the sugar!), or a premade bean burrito.

Items to make meals. Lunch meat is a great addition to a mini fridge to make a quick sandwich with some sliced bread or a wrap. Or hold the bread and simply roll the meat up with some cheese! Keep mini jars of peanut butter and jelly on hand for an easy-to-make lunch.

Freezer Finds

This article isn’t only about how to stock a dorm room fridge. If your fridge comes with a freezer, you need to take advantage of it too! Freezers are a great way to store leftovers, have healthy meals on hand, and keep your favorite treats properly stored.

Frozen meals. Frozen meals can be a life changer when you’re hungry but don’t have time (or energy) to whip something up. Besides, frozen meals today are packed with fewer preservatives, sugars, and salts. Look for healthy bowls, burritos, entrees, and more in the frozen aisle, and keep them on hand for emergencies.

Sugar cravings. To satisfy your sweet tooth, keep some handy “sugary” treats in your freezer. Frozen fruit like mango and grapes and yummy to snack on. Indulge with some frozen yogurt, too! Just pay attention to portion size.


Hydrating, Good-For-You Beverages

Staying hydrated is super important, but that doesn’t mean you need to fill your fridge with a 12-pack of plastic water bottles. Instead, consider buying a reusable water bottle and filling up at water fountains and drinking stations around campus.

Still, other liquids could be great for your health and can help satisfy your stomach if you’re craving something with a little flavor.

Fruit and veggie juice. While fruit juice contains a ton of sugar, a lot of healthy food brands now sell fruit and veggie blends to offset all the sweetness. Plus, these juices are way better for you than a sugary soda. Just make sure to check the label and see how much sugar you’re drinking. It might be in your best interest to only drink a little at a time.

Dairy-free milk. This might be essential, especially if you’re an avid coffee drinker in the morning. There are many dairy-free alternatives which are not only good for your body but also tend to keep longer than cow’s milk. Choose from soy, almond, coconut, or oat milk, and add it to your coffee, morning bowl of oats, or drink it on its own! Some brands even carry chocolate-flavored milks which can be a nice treat at the end of a long school day.

Coconut water. What’s great about coconut water is it can be super hydrating — and could even help prevent a hangover. Unlike good ol’ regular water, coconut H20 is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and several important minerals. If you don’t like how it tastes on its own, you can buy coconut water that is infused with other flavors, like pineapple, lime, or even chocolate. They often come in small, recyclable bottles so you can easily store it in your mini-fridge.

How to Maintain a Balanced Mindset in College

With a new semester almost upon us, it is time to talk about mental health. Specifically, identifying ways to maintain a balanced mindset during the academic year. College life is multi-faceted and there is always a lot to keep track of. Thankfully, there are ways to focus on mental health while at school. Our key tips are to stay focused while avoiding overworking or feeling overwhelmed.

Stay Organized

One of the handiest things to do in college is to keep a planner, calendar or some sort of list. With various tasks and dates to keep track of, your planner will probably be your best friend! Staying organized is key to avoid overworking yourself and staying on top of deadlines. If you have never used a planner before, we recommend making a conscious habit to update it daily. How you use your planner will depend on your personal organizational style. For example, some people benefit from colour coding certain dates and tasks. Others prefer using symbols to organize their tasks. Planners and calendars can also be kept digitally, which allows for easier access via phone or computer. Whatever method you choose, we recommend keeping track of anything and everything you feel is important.

You can also use your planner to track non-academic habits such as meals, water intake and exercise. Keeping track of lifestyle/fitness habits is just as important as tracking academic or work tasks. You can find free templates online or inspiration to start your own tracking pages. Staying organized in both your personal and work life is crucial to maintain a balanced mindset. In fact, having work-life balance helps reduce stress, burnout and other mental obstacles. By physically keeping track of various tasks and duties, you will avoid overloading your brain with mental reminders. That way, you can focus on more enjoyable tasks such as going out with friends.

Down Time

While it is important to get ahead of work, it is equally important to schedule time for yourself. Being able to relax and rejuvenate is a major step to maintaining a balanced mental state. A few of our favourite “me time” activities include yoga, meditation or simply staying in and watching a movie. Whatever way you choose to relax, make sure you pencil into your schedule! There are so many health benefits to relaxation such as lowering blood pressure and improving your mood.

Sometimes it feels like you need to keep up and stay ahead but that can often lead to burnout. There is already a lot of pressure in academia to be studious and diligent at all times. While those are good habits to get into, it can leave students feeling overworked. As a result, stress levels rise and students’ self-care is non-existent. We are firm believers that self-care and self-love should always come first! After all, you only have one shot at life, might as well live it how you want.

If you are more of a type A person and staying busy is your version of down time, there are ways to practice self-care and stay busy. For instance, grab and partner or friend and choose an activity that will get you moving. Staying active is a great down time alternative for those who want to keep moving and stay busy.

Another one of our favourite productive self-care activities is meal prepping for the week! Meal prepping is a great way to get away from your desk or computer and into the kitchen. If you love to cook, this is a perfect way to de-stress and try out new recipes. Even if you do not like to cook, you have to eat somehow, right? While we like to keep our meal simple, we enjoy the time it takes to plan meals and get a little solo time away from work and school. It might seem strange that meal prepping can help maintain a balanced mindset, but we believe any form of down time is critical to sustain mental balance.

Find Your Groove

This might be one of the most important tips to achieving a balanced mindset in college. It is so important to not compare yourself to other students because once you do, it is really hard to quit that mentality. Everyone’s workload and capacity is different – you need to understand your limits. At times, it can be tempting to up your workload and take on as many tasks as you can.

Overcommitting and overloading your schedule is one of the most dangerous habits to adopt. We definitely discourage that – it will stress you out, lead to burn out and ruin your balanced mindset. In fact, more often than not employers and professors understand students limit themselves and focus on mental health. If you have to turn down an opportunity to stay balanced and healthy, it is not the end of the world and people will understand.

We recommend changing your mentality. Tell yourself it’s acceptable to limit yourself – do not agree to a workload you cannot handle! Pushing yourself past your limits and overworking does nothing good for your health. There is nothing more important than recognising your limits and working at your own pace. Remind yourself that college is not a competition and your achievements are valid. You should celebrate your success instead of comparing them to others’. Once you adopt this mentality, you will be one step closer to maintaining a balanced mindset.

12 Quiet Library Snacks That Won’t Announce That You’re Eating

It’s back to school time and for many college students that means back to the library. Although a perfect spot to study, a library is often a minefield when it comes to snacking. A crunch of a celery stick could send chills down someone’s spine. But forgoing something to eat can leave you groggy, uncomfortable, and with an even louder growling stomach.

Don’t be that guy (or gal!). We’ve got 12 Quiet Library Snacks that keep you satisfied while staying soundless. Enjoy quiet snacking so you can fuel your body and stay focused.

Here are 12 Quiet Library Snacks That Won’t Announce That You’re Eating!

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

These energy bites are not only crunch-proof, they will keep you full and in the zone for a marathon study session. America’s favorite power couple, peanut butter and chocolate, satisfy that sweet tooth while the flaxseed offers a superfood boost. Did we mention you can make these at home in under 10 minutes?

The Greek Breakfast Burrito

Greek Burrito

We all need that mid-report-writing escape. The Greek breakfast burrito sends your taste buds on a trip to the Mediterranean without leaving your desk. The cage-free eggs, feta cheese, and white beans, offer you a burst of energy and mouthwatering flavor. Don’t be afraid to ask a library staff member where their microwave is located. Sometimes it can be as hidden as your favorite read.

Healthy Strawberry Parfait


This parfait is perfect for an evening in the library. Filled with good bacteria, yogurt keeps your gut happy while you hit the books. Top with your favorite berries for a sweet flavor. Finish with some granola or, if you think that veers on too crunchy, opt for oats. Its cute factor doesn’t hurt either.

Pancake Puffs

pancake puffs

Okay, these might turn heads but only out of jealousy. Is there anything more baller than rolling up to a packed library with your own mini pancakes? Pop ‘em in the microwave and enjoy! Who says pancakes need to be reserved for mornings?



Gut-friendly and filling, oatmeal is the perfect snack when you need a little pick me up. Dress it up like something insta-worthy or eat as is, this will keep you full till the library closes. Pro-tip: the Good Food Made Simple frozen oatmeal packs can double as an ice pack in your lunch bag. Wait for it to thaw or heat it up for a cozy treat.

Peanut Butter Banana Sushi

This “sushi” is a sophisticated take on the classic peanut butter sandwich. This healthy delight is as unexpected as it is delicious. Swap peanut butter with almond butter or even Nutella to satisfy a craving and never get bored.

Chia Pudding

Chia Pudding

Ancient civilizations believed that chia seeds held superpowers and who couldn’t use a couple extra superpowers when studying for an exam? Chia pudding is easy to make and can be prepped in bulk! Make a few mason jars and stock up your mini-fridge. You won’t regret it. Top yours with anything from chocolate to coconut to your favorite fruits.

Chocolate Chip Mug Cake

Mug cakes are a college MUST. Birthday? Mug cake. Aced a test? Mug cake. Literally any other reason? Mug cake. This chocolate chip mug cake is SO easy to make. Just chef this up in minutes at your dorm, throw it in a Tupperware container to bring to the library and enjoy when the mood strikes you.

Chicken and Black Bean Bowl

Chicken Black Bean Bowl

Who says you can’t have a little fiesta while you fire through flashcards? Don’t sacrifice nutrition just because you don’t have a stove. Good Food Made Simple does the heavy lifting for you so you can enjoy real food at fast food speed. The chicken and black bean bowl is packed with flavor and made with only real ingredients.

Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates

Stuffed Dates

The term “library date” takes on a whole new meaning with these sweet things. All-natural and delicious, stuffed dates are the perfect treat during a long day at the library.

Hard Boiled Eggs

hard boiled eggs

Make every trip to the library egg-mazing with the simplest snack out there, hardboiled eggs. Pair with salt and pepper or even some avocado for flavor. It’s a clean protein source that won’t leave you feeling groggy. Buy them pre-cooked and save your energy for the books!

Cake Batter Oatmeal Prep Bars

Cake Batter Oat Bars

No oven? No problem! These bars don’t require baking! Get that sugar high you crave and the satisfaction of making something delicious. Head in the books, party in your mouth. Try this cake batter peanut butter and you’ll never go back to regular pb.