After all the food is eaten, the relatives leave and the decorations come down, each college student turns off the Mariah, the Bing, and the Chipmunks, and tunes into their other winter music collection. Indeed, it feels inherently cruel to listen to artists such as Best Coast and State Radio when the beach is far out of sight, but why does one feel a deeper connection to Bon Iver during the winter rather than the summer? Does the winter help us get more in touch with Justin Vernon’s woodsy cabin sound, or, as students with a vacation of a month and a half, do we attach easier to the loneliness found in this type of music?
While winter break usually revolves around one week of the holiday season for most people, us, college students, have the luxury of a vacation from the middle of December until January. This translates to lots of alone time; time to sleep, time to catch up on the Netflix queue, catch up on some reading, and time to lament in that new New Year’s journal. According to psychologist William Braun, PsyD, “When it gets dark early, we feel a psychological pull to go home and crawl under the covers, but staying in creates feelings of isolation.” If loneliness and winter are words interconnected, is it possible for college students to avoid feelings of isolation during vacation?
“It’s hard to stay active for the whole winter vacation, especially when college students have a limited amount of money to spend,” says Jenna Hamilton, a junior at Eckerd University. “I try to schedule at least one week of the vacation to visit my friends. Even if we don’t necessarily go out, it’s better than just sitting in the house alone.”
Colin Hyland, a junior from The College of New Jersey agreed that winter break is best spent with friends. “Even with the weather, I try to be outside as much as possible playing football or basketball.” According to Braun exercise in the winter is one of the best options to avoid feelings of loneliness in the winter. “Theories suggest that exposure to natural sunlight can increase serotonin and exercising in brisk weather will make you feel more energized because your body has to work harder to keep you warm.”
While Braun recommends exercise and going outside it is after all winter, and there are some times when going outside is not feasible. Can the college student truly handle the creeping in of loneliness when left to their own devices? Hamilton says that for the New Year she promised herself to not focus on these types of feelings that winter break can induce by writing in a gratitude journal. “You can only write about the positive things that happened during your day in a gratitude journal. It’s an individual activity that focuses on how you can be more receptive and positive to the world, even if it’s a bad day.”