Natalie St. Denis
After a long and winter at SUNY Plattsburgh, days are finally starting to get warmer. The first few warm days of the year sent almost every student on campus outside, making the college feel lively again. This was a gratifying change from the vacant sidewalks during the winter that keep everyone cooped up inside their dorms.
Being able to get outside has positively affected the mental health of students campus wide.
“It’s definitely helped it a lot because during the winter I was just stuck inside doing homework,” Freshman accounting major Alicia Durgan said. “But at least now I can go outside and do homework or even go outside and exercise. So it’s been a lot better.”
Some students, like freshman adolescent education major Sam Marsh, enjoy the cold weather, but still take advantage of the benefits when it does get warmer. Marsh makes an effort to get outside when he can. Instead of taking the school shuttle into town, he would rather walk.
“I definitely do feel better on days when it’s warmer and sunnier. But I also really like the cold weather, I mean that’s why I came up here. I really enjoy cold weather,” Marsh said.
But he did allude to the fact that a lot of people have seasonal depression. This is usually diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it affects 0.5 to 3% of the population, according to Medlineplus.org. The warmer weather can greatly impact their mental health.
Students who have in-person classes could be considered the lucky ones as the warmer weather approaches. But these same students may have been unlucky during the colder months trekking through the snow.
“I unfortunately don’t have any in-person classes, so I don’t get to go outside as much as I would like to. But that just means I have to maximize whatever opportunities I have to go outside and I think I’ve been doing OK so far,” Marsh said.
Other students are struggling to find the time to get outside because they are bogged down with work from their classes. Freshman early childhood and special education major Jillian Beauchamp is among these students.
Beauchamp feels as though not having any days off is preventing her from being able to get outside.
“The only time I have off is maybe the weekends, but still I’m doing schoolwork in an overwhelming amount,” Beauchamp said.
Furthermore, she said her time to get outside is when she walks between classes or walking to work. But she wishes she had more time for outdoor self-care, like sitting by the river and enjoying the view or exercising.
“Getting outside is just really beneficial because it helps you unwind. Not being able to, because of time restraints and not having any time to do so, is really negative because all you’re doing is working,” Beauchamp said.
Taking in the warmer weather should not go overlooked. Everyone enjoys getting outside once the weather starts to warm up. Students especially, rely on nice weather now more than ever during this seemingly endless pandemic.
“I think everyone can benefit from the outdoors in the same way. It’s a literal breath of fresh air,” Marsh said.