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Sunshine SMC brings awareness to seasonal affective disorder

| Friday, September 11, 2020

Sunshine SMC is a new club created for the purpose of bringing awareness to seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD, to campus this semester with innovative activities and outreach projects designed to help students combat the problem. The club aims to educate students on how SAD can impact both themselves and their peers.

SAD is a kind of depression that is cyclical with the coming and going of the winter season. Symptoms include a drop in serotonin — a neurotransmitter that impacts mood — due to the lack of light in the winter. Sunshine SMC emphasizes the importance of reaching out to one another with kindness and the knowledge that anyone could be affected by SAD, in an effort to help one another and create a strong community of support.

SAD affects women four times as often as men and also hits young adults the hardest — that is the exact population of Saint Mary’s College,” junior and club founder Ellie Lynch said. “That’s why I wanted to create a club here on campus that was directly combating SAD.”

Lynch said she noticed the issue of gloom that the winter season, and affiliated finals season, seem to bring and decided to take direct action and help her fellow peers by creating this club.

Helping one another is extremely important, especially because you never know who SAD could be affecting,” she said. “Reach out to friends, smile at strangers and give as many compliments as you can. I am hoping that Sunshine SMC can spread some positivity under the eternal South Bend perma-cloud.” 

The club’s main form of recruitment and marketing thus far has been Instagram.

“I just followed them on Instagram, but I like the idea of the club,” senior Kate Hill said. “I think it will be a good resource for those who have to combat SAD. I’m looking forward to see what events might happen and the clubs they partner with to bring awareness to campus.”

Students who are unable to attend the organization’s events can utilize the tips the club offers on their social media. 

The best way to combat SAD is light therapy,” Lynch said. “Light is key, so getting outside and exposing yourself to as much sunshine as you can will help improve your mood. Or if you find yourself getting stuck studying in the library more days than not, you can buy an artificial sunlight lamp which will also help.”

Other suggestions Lynch mentioned include exercise, regular chats with friends and hobbies to keep busy. 

Lynch emphasized that although the club will help to prevent SAD, it should not be used in place of seeking help, if students feel in danger of some of the more extreme effects of SAD.

Sunshine SMC is not a substitute for therapy, and should not be used in that way,” she said. “If someone is really suffering from the effects of SAD or any other mental health related issue please reach out to Health and Counseling.” 

Sunshine SMC has planned several events for this semester to help alleviate the effects of SAD. Events include an indoor beach party, workout classes, volunteer opportunities, sledding, snowmen building and movie nights. Lynch said students interested in attending Sunshine SMC’s events are encouraged to follow the club on Instagram.

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