Tag Archives: winter

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Finding the Light in Seasonal Affective Disorder

-Marissa Tomko

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but what do January showers bring? For residents of the northwestern corner of the country, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be the answer. This is a disorder that seriously affects about 6 percent of Americans ages 20-40, and this does not include the 20 percent who experience less severe symptoms. Of these percentages, 75 percent are said to be women.

It is a pretty common opinion, at least among my peers, that summertime is preferable over the winter months, and it makes sense—it’s less stressful, more fun, and the weather allows us to enjoy outdoor activities without freezing or getting soaked. Even given the financial benefits, the number of Southern California kids that decide to come to school in Eugene always throws me. Even though the majority of them love this school and the experiences they have, there is no shortage of complaints about the cold and constant rain.

This makes for a less active student population in the fall and winter months. Students become more tired, less productive, and have tendencies to veg out and and smile less. Oregon is ranked the fourteenth most depression-affected state in the nation. But why? After looking into it, I realized that it is not the cold or rain that makes us all want to snuggle up and avoid homework—it’s the darkness.

During the fall and winter, the Northwest is under pretty constant cloud cover. It’s an event when the sun decides to shine down for an hour or two in the middle of January. But the sunshine does more than spark excited small talk about the weather—it gives us the chance to soak up some precious vitamin D, which helps us feel more awake and healthy. Melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep, is produced in amounts inversely related to how much vitamin D we absorb. This causes us to experience a dramatic energy low, which serves as a basis for other SAD symptoms including feelings of depression, cravings for sweet and carb-loaded foods, anxiety, and a less-positive feeling about life in general.

Methods to avoid these symptoms are different for everyone who is affected by them. Spending as much time in the sunlight as possible is crucial. When you cannot do so, light therapy is an alternative option often prescribed. This involves a special lamp that burns ten times brighter than normal indoor lighting and has the ability to simulate a sunrise by increasing in brightness throughout your morning.

Another way to combat symptoms is to create a healthy lifestyle. This includes keeping an eye on your diet and exercise routines, cutting back on time in front of the computer, and trying to maintain a positive mental outlook. These notions may be easier said than done, but they are the main components to beating winter blues and living a sustainable and healthy life overall. If you have a hard time doing these things on your own, talk to a counselor or a friend face-to-face.

Feeling the effects of darkness is more common than you might think, especially in the stressed-out lives of university students. Just don’t forget to take a step back sometimes and focus on what makes you smile.

Portland: A World In Windows

-Whitney Menefee

After spending a weekend in Portland I remembered just how much I love window displays, especially around the holidays. I have always been interested in interior design and the visual creativity derived from it and, after a day of walking around the Pearl District, one of the most creative areas in Portland, I saw some very creative and fun window displays that I thought I would share. Ready to see and hear about some of my favorite Portland window displays?

French Quarter Linens is a high-end linens store on Northwest 11th Avenue. Each month, French Quarter Linens changes the bedding and pillows in their window display according to the weather and season. This month they chose cozy darker colors that make it hard for shoppers (me in particular), not to jump in the bed and take a quick nap before heading to the next store.

The top window display is Anthropologie’s 2012 November winter-themed display. Anthropologie always has the most creative window displays during the holiday season because all of their decorations are hand done. The polar bears in the display are made out of paper mâché and white confetti paper.

This window display is in Jonathan Adler, a new modern furniture store located on NW Everett Street. I love the red chain links that border the window–they are so festive and really get me excited for the Christmas holiday.

Thea’s Interiors Vintage Living is a vintage furniture boutique on Glisan Street. When I walked by Thea’s Interiors, I was curious about the wedding dress in their window display, being a furniture store. Despite knowing the store’s reasons behind showcasing a wedding dress in their furniture store’s window display, I discovered that the dress was made out of paper, which was incredible to hear. This window display is the reason for why I have such an appreciation for window displays. It takes a creative team to make a wedding dress out of paper.

A Rainy Day Rant: Umbrella Etiquette

-Jessica Ridgway

I’ve finally adapted to the wet winter weather Eugene graces us with during these cold months. I’ve purchased countless rain jackets, increased my boot collection, and I even bought an umbrella. And yes, I’m aware that a true Oregonian never uses an umbrella, having been teased numerous times by my rain-jacketed friends. But I don’t care. I am completely secure being an umbrella user in a town that views them as weakness.

My love for the umbrella is endless and when it’s raining I will take one almost everywhere. However, the only place I refuse to use an umbrella is in crowds, and if I’m out braving the rain like a “true Oregonian” I avoid umbrellas as much as I can. I don’t know why this happens, but when the rain falls, and the umbrellas come out, the sidewalk becomes a battlefield. It’s every umbrella for itself, and if you’re a rain-jacketed soldier you just have to watch out for the crossfire.

Perhaps the umbrella has such a deep-seated stigma here in Oregon that it’s necessary to plow through people, full of pride, surrounded by your rainproof barrier. Or perhaps people just have bad manners and aren’t aware their umbrella poked someone in the eye. Whatever the reason, chaos between umbrellas can still be avoided. So, if you’re an avid umbrella user consider these “rules” before heading out in the rain.

1. Use an umbrella that is proportionate to your size. A single person walking alone to class should not use an enormous golf umbrella. It’s completely unnecessary, it takes up too much space, and it looks strange.

2. When encountering another umbrella remember this tip: if the umbrella is shorter than yours, lift yours up in passing. If the other umbrella is taller than yours, pull yours down closer to your head (ladies, watch your hair!) while passing.

3. It’s impossible to fit two umbrellas on a sidewalk, so stop trying to make it work! Share one, or finish the conversation off of the sidewalk or inside. No one wants to maneuver around an umbrella barricade, and it’s always the duo-umbrella wall that injures umbrella-less pedestrians.

4. Speaking of pedestrians, watch out for them! They’re braving the rain without the umbrella security, so be aware of yours. Know where all of the pokey metal or plastic bits are and keep them away from faces and bodies. I hate people who wiggle their umbrella while they walk or hold it at an extreme angle. Avoid being that walking hazard.

5. When shaking your umbrella dry, do it outside and away from people. Most buildings have an entryway or sheltered area to safely do this. Don’t be the jerk who shakes water onto passing strangers or onto the floor and causes an accident.

Umbrella etiquette is not a set of manners engraved in stone. It simply comes down to common courtesy and respect for those around us. Keep these tips in mind the next time you brave the rain and everyone will stay not only dry, but happy too.

Follow Jessica at @jcridgway

How to Dress for an Oregon Winter

-Callie Gisler

Oregon winters are infamous for rain, wind, and those few sunny – but freezing – days thrown in for good measure. It’s that type of schizophrenic weather that can make staying warm, dry, and comfortable a challenge – especially for a college student running from one class to another. So how do you dress to beat the cold and rain? Here are a few ideas to consider before you leave the house tomorrow morning…

Layers, layers, layers!

Dressing in layers is one of the easiest ways to cope with unreliable weather. Guys, add a sweatshirt or sweater over your shirt before you pull on your jacket. Layers make it easy to take clothes off or put them on depending on the temperature and weather. Ladies, layer a cardigan and sweater over your top before putting on your coat. Add a pair of cotton leggings under your jeans, or wear a second pair of tights if you’ve decided on a dress or skirt for the day.

Pick the right outerwear.

In a torrential downpour, your favorite yellow and green hoodie isn’t going to do anything to keep you dry. Nor is anything else made from absorbent materials like cotton. Consider investing in a quality raincoat, one that will last you for several years. Look for garments that are marked “water repellent” or “water resistant.” Brands like the Northface and Columbia are popular here in the Pacific Northwest for their high-quality and effective outerwear.

Footwear DOES matter.

If you remember from high school biology class, you lose a large percentage of your body heat from your feet. Which is why the right pair of shoes really will help keep you warmer during the day. Look for sturdy, closed-toed shoes – boots, rain boots, sneakers. And no ladies, UGGs don’t count as significant rain boots. If you really need the extra warmth, invest in wool socks or add a second pair.


This goes for the men as well. Scarves, hats, and gloves are sometimes a necessity. And don’t let anyone tell you that carrying an umbrella is “Un-Oregonian” if it keeps you dry.

Follow Callie at @calliegisler

Rainy Day Arts & Crafts: Melted Crayon Art

-Jessica Ridgway

Shut the windows and bring out your flannel sheets because winter has arrived in Eugene! Some students can brave the wet and cold, but if you’re like me many of your winter weekends are spent indoors. Thankfully, I’ve stumbled upon some cheap and easy crafts projects to keep me cooped up for the season.

What You’ll Need:

Crayons, a canvas, a hot glue gun, and a hairdryer. I spent less than $8 and about two hours on this project.


First, pick out your crayons. I chose a wide array of green and yellow.

This is an optional step, but I removed the labels from the crayons. I scavenged for my crayons and bought a ton of them from Goodwill and didn’t like that the labels didn’t match.

The next step is to glue the crayons to the canvas. For my first attempt at this project I laid a long strip of hot glue down and quickly placed the crayons down. This worked, but some of the crayons were not glued down and slid off once the canvas was tilted. I recommend gluing and melting the crayons down one-by-one for a cleaner, straighter look.

Another optional tip! Insert a picture in the background. You can leave it on (like I did) or peel it off afterwards for a cool crayon outline.

The final step is to melt the crayons. Tilt the canvas and use the hairdryer to melt them. I varied between low-to-high heats and speeds; it all depends on the look you want.

Et voila! Sophisticated crayon art for those bare walls!

Happy crafting!

Top 10 Foods to Keep You Warm this Holiday Season

-Sam Bouchat

For when your bones are cold and your stomach has the rumblies (in no particular order)

10. Salted caramel hot chocolate: With caramel, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt, you don’t need a Starbucks for this great gulp.

9. Potato soup: With Yukon Gold potatoes, this combination of bacon and salty spices will warm you from the inside out. It also goes great with all breads in existence. Grab yourself a loaf and dig in.

8. Fresh baked cookies, of the chocolate chip variety: Not only will your stomach thank you, but your house will smell amazing for hours afterwards. And your roommates will love you.

7. Warm pumpkin pie: And do not forget the whip cream. Ever.

6. Homemade macaroni and cheese: This classic warm dish is delicious from a box, but even better when made fresh. The kicker: excellent leftovers.

5. Beef stew: The greatest thing about stew is that you can essentially take anything in your fridge and throw it in the pot to make yourself a warm and filling meal. It also lends itself well to vegetarian editing. This clash of salty warmth will make you lazy and sleepy, so eat at your own risk.

4. Oatmeal: Sometimes, it’s just better to go back to the basics. This sticky, sweet mess will make you smile whether you want to or not. Every day that starts off with oatmeal is going to be a good day. It’s one of the intrinsic laws of the universe.

3. Grilled cheese: The average college student always has bread lying around (that is assuming that they haven’t used it all up with their potato soup). Most even have cheese. Combined, a mind-blowing and deliciously nostalgic meal ensues. Add a mug of tomato soup with crackers, and you got yourself a regular banquet, capable of fighting off any wintertime illness.

2. Hot spiced apple cider: It’s pretty awesome. Keep a warm pint of this stuff next to you while doing your homework. You’ll get every question right.

1. Hot Pockets: When all else fails, Hot Pockets.

Photos taken from SavorySweetLife.com and grilledcheesesandwich.org