Greetings, fellow students! I’m Gowri, currently pursuing MSc in Digital Marketing. Being from southern India, where single digit temperatures are a rarity, I understand the challenges of navigating through the biting cold of winter.  

As January unfolds, the atmosphere on campus can seem a bit stark. The festive cheer has dissipated, the sun seems to have gone on a permanent siesta, and and your motivation is buried somewhere under a pile of laundry. It’s enough to make you want to hibernate until March, right? But don’t worry! Winter doesn’t have to be a bleak wasteland. It can be a time for self-care, reinvention and exploration.  

This blog aims to be your guide to not only surviving but thriving in the winter months. So, grab a warm beverage and let’s dive into some mood-boosting tips to help you get through this.  

Grabbing a coffee to-go on campus

What are the Winter Blues?

Let’s get things straight – the “winter blues” is a phrase used to express feelings of sadness, isolation, and general unhappiness that often creep in during the fall and winter months when days become shorter and colder.  

Addressing this head-on is particularly important for us uni students – it’s about keeping our spirits high and staying on top of our game. This means we’re ready to conquer our studies, enjoy campus life, and make the most of our uni journey. If you’re up for it, keep reading!  

Streatham Campus in winter

Academic Hacks 

  • Study Spaces 

Consider diversifying your study environments – exploring various corners of the library or discovering a quiet spot in a nearby café can refresh your perspective. I personally enjoy studying at the Loft, a serene, blue-themed study area at the Forum. It’s ideal for focused, quiet reflection with private cubicles and study tables.

The Loft study space

On the other hand, the Guild study space offers a lively, colourful environment, perfect for collaborative sessions with food kiosks where you can grab a snack and start brainstorming. 

Exeter Students’ Guild study space, Devonshire House

Pro Tip: Break up your study sessions with short walks; a bit of fresh air can work wonders for your concentration. If you’re on campus, take a walk through the greenery of Reed Gardens and the fountain by Queen’s Building, or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, Exeter Quay offers a delightful riverside stroll with picturesque cafés for you to work in. The Bury Meadow Park is also extremely pretty and when I’m feeling low, I just sit on the swing amidst the large oak trees and video call my family back home, while cute puppies run around playing fletch!  

Exeter Quay is perfect for a winter’s walk
  • Collaborative Learning  

Studying in isolation can breed the winter blues, so consider teaming up with a study buddy. Not only will it make the work more fun, but you’ll have a built-in support system to share the coffee-fuelled rants and exam stress.  

  • Pomodoro Power 

Confronting a daunting workload? Employ the Pomodoro Technique to break it down into manageable segments.  Here’s what I do:

I set a focused 25-minute timer, dive into my tasks with precision, and then reward myself with a brief respite – be it a mini dance break or a curated cat video session (no judgment here). This rhythmic alternation between productivity and enjoyable breaks keeps my cognitive gears turning with contentment and motivation.   

Cozy Connections 

  • Campus Community  

Remember, you’re not alone in this wintery struggle. Connecting with others is a surefire way to boost your mood and remind you that you’re part of a vibrant community. Join a society, participate in student union activities, or organise a movie night or board games night with your flat mates.  

Being a part of the Women in Business Society and Legion Dance Society events feels like finding my own slice of warmth in the winter chill. Amidst assignment stress, these societies are my go-to places for not just honing professional skills, but also for moments of joy while dancing. It’s more than just networking; it’s about forging connections and sharing a hearty laugh.      

  • Explore and Experience  

Step away from the Netflix binge! Explore your city with friends, catch a local band, or try your hand at a workshop. New experiences and social interactions are like vitamin D for your soul.  

Time spent with friends is always uplifting

I would usually head over to Puerto Lounge by the riverside for a dinner with my friends or enjoy live music or an experimental painting workshop at the Phoenix Arts Centre on Gandy Street by myself. The city centre is nicely lit in the evenings, so I think you would love taking your friends for a night stroll through the quaint streets!  

Afternoon walks by the river

Nutrition and Fitness 

  • Wholesome Eating 

The cold season often tempts us with comfort foods, and while indulgence has its place, prioritising a nutritious diet during winter is important for good immunity. Swap out the fast food for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also, take your vitamins (especially vitamin D) and Omega-3 fatty acids which can be found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. This can, in fact, positively impact your mood and energy levels.  

Be sure to visit the Daily Bowl plant-friendly community café on Queen Street that serves delicious whole-food, organic, and super healthy dishes!  

The Farmer’s Market takes place every Thursday from 9.00am to 1.00pm on South Street and offers fresh produce, dairy, and meat.   

  • Hydration is Key   

Did you know? We actually get more dehydrated in winter when compared to summer. Indoor heaters and chilly outdoor breezes are like moisture thieves, leaving you feeling a bit parched. While a steaming mug of tea or cocoa feels lovely in your hands, it can act as a diuretic, meaning it flushes out fluids from your body. So, make sure you’re carrying that water bottle with you everywhere.     

  • Get Moving 

Getting out of the covers early in the morning can seem like the most difficult thing to do. However, engaging in a workout has the potential to dispel that overwhelming sense of tiredness or fatigue. Find a winter-friendly activity that you enjoy, be it a dance class, gym sessions, or even winter sports. Not only does it keep you physically active, but it’s a fantastic stressbuster too. Nevertheless, if the great outdoors isn’t calling your name, a simple alternative is laying out a yoga mat at home or fitting in a brief Pilates session to kickstart your day.    

Bury Meadow Park

The uni’s Russell Seal Fitness Centre boasts 200 stations of cutting-edge equipment, from cardio machines and free weights to a functional rig and Watt Bikes. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned athlete, they have what you need to crush your fitness goals.   

  • Sleep Schedule  

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule proves highly beneficial, especially when grappling with low motivation and an overall sense of ‘blah.’ Sticking to a regular routine where you aim for at least 7 hours of sleep makes you feel well-rested and refreshed upon waking. Personally, I find that hitting the hay around 11 PM and rising at 8 AM aligns perfectly with my sleep needs, ensuring a rejuvenated start to my mornings.  

Student Support 

Most importantly, take care of yourself. Don’t shy away from reaching out for some support, especially when things feel a bit overwhelming. The University of Exeter has a super dependable support team with qualified practitioners for emotional and mental wellbeing – truly your unwavering support companions in times of distress. You can either book a 20-minute drop-in session to have a short conversation at Reed Mews Wellbeing Centre. There is also 24/7 support available via Togetherall which can help if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or low. 

Whenever you need a friendly chat or expert advice, feel free to reach out. They’re here to assist you.    

For more information –  

Light Therapy 

Living in a place with shorter days and limited sunlight, it’s easy to feel the energy drain. I’m sharing with you my daily remedy that has personally helped me in the last few weeks of being in Exeter: I spend about 30 minutes every morning cozied up in front of a special light therapy lamp. It’s like soaking up the energising rays of a virtual sunshine. The science backs it up – studies show that around 7 out of 10 folks experience a drop in their winter blues symptoms with light therapy. The trick is to catch that light therapy glow early in the day, consistently, even on weekends.  

At night, I light up my favourite vanilla cinnamon candle, make myself a steaming cup of joe, and put on some music to get a good night’s sleep.    

Read more here: 

Simple things to boost your mood!

That’s all from my side!  

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and seeking support is a sign of strength. Embrace the resources provided, engage with the supportive community around you, and prioritise your mental and emotional well-being. University life is an adventure, and with the right support, you’re equipped to thrive. 

These are some of my winter pick-me-ups and I encourage you to give them a shot. I genuinely hope they bring a bit of warmth and cheer to your winter days!