As daylight saving comes to an end and winter closes in, our time with the sun shortens. This can have an effect on mental well-being, especially on the East Coast, where the fall and winter seasons come with brutal cold.
“Honestly, I’m not doing the best, there’s not the same level of sunlight as you get in Florida,” said Ness Cruz, an intern in Washington, D.C. originally from Miami. “People underestimate how much that really affects their mood and your actual well-being.”
SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, affects about 5% of Americans according to the American Psychiatric Association. For those who aren’t used to seasons, like many interns who travel to D.C. for career opportunities, the adjustment to less sun and wintry winds can be jarring.
“I’ve never lived in the cold, so it’s been very difficult. I’ve been struggling a lot, specifically just because the sun has been going away,” Kyomi Cabral, an intern from Kissimmee remarked. “Mentally it’s just harder to focus.”
Arielle Ceant, a nurse at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington D.C. says that when it’s too cold to catch sun rays outside, there are other ways to boost serotonin.
“I’m somebody who also has seasonal depression, I call it. Something I do is definitely work out.” She explained. “I tell everyone that, you know, exercising releases endorphins, so you’re automatically going to be happier.”
In D.C. one of the best ways to trick your body into thinking you’re closer to the equator is a visit to the U.S. Botanical Gardens, which recreates tropical climates for the plants it features.
Despite the jarring adjustments, Florida natives like Brandon Miranda, who is from Miami, say they’re grateful for the experience.
“It’s kind of affecting me in a good way,” he said, “because at least I can tackle this if I do end up living up north or anything like that, I know what to do.”