A Pennsylvanian’s Guide to Surviving Winter in Happy Valley
Winter in Pennsylvania is absolutely brutal. If you’re a fellow native Pennsylvanian, you’re already well aware of this fact. If you’re a Penn State student coming in from a warmer state or even a warmer country, you sure are in for a treat. Happy Valley gets cold, and somehow that cold front comes through every year and takes everyone’s happiness and motivation right along with it. You really have to stay on top of your grades, physical health, and mental health from December to March, but luckily, I do have some guidance to help keep those winter blues away.
My first piece of advice is to take care of your appearance. “Look good, feel good, do good.” With these cold Pennsylvania winters, it’s so easy to just start wearing Adam Sandler-style baggy sweatshirts and sweatpants everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. As comfy and appropriate as your boyfriend’s clothes are for an 8 a.m. lecture, it is undeniable that some confidence and self esteem dissipates when you’re walking around in clothes that are three sizes too big for you all the time. I promise, there are ways to look cute in winter — and you’ll feel so much more confident when you put some effort into your appearance.
Getting up and getting dressed nicely in the morning has been scientifically proven to increase motivation. Just putting on a nice sweater and jeans can trick your brain into waking up from that winter slump and can get you ready to work and study. Keep your productivity and self esteem up this winter and just take care of your appearance. I promise, it’s worth it!
Remember to exercise and keep moving. As the cold front comes in, you’ll be spending less time outside walking around. Most of the time, you’ll just want to be huddled under a heated blanket in your room. But if you have a regular workout routine, stick with it! If you can get to the gym at least once or twice a week, you’ll feel so much better than if you just spend all the time in your room. And if you don’t want to make that trek to the gym, that’s completely okay. There are so many videos on YouTube that you could pull up from the comfort of your dorm room and follow along with. Just keep your body moving. Some yoga or pilates between classes will keep your muscles warm and healthy, and it will increase your motivation for schoolwork!
Take care of your skin and health! One of the most important things you absolutely need to do in winter is drink lots of water and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Your skin is about to get so dry and you need to take care of it. Also, start taking vitamins and immune system supplements if you don’t already! Cold and flu season is upon us and nobody wants to spend a week in bed with a fever. College is hard enough without being a week behind on classes because your roommate gave you the flu.
Start giving yourself an extra five minutes to bundle up before class. Throwing on a sweatshirt and sneakers isn’t going to cut it anymore. You’re going to need a little bit of time to put on a coat, gloves, scarf, and hat. If you don’t have your winter essentials already, now is a great time to order some nice snow boots and a thick coat! You will absolutely need some good waterproof boots. I like to get mine a half size too big so that I can wear my thickest, fluffiest socks underneath.
Limit your screen time. This takes a lot of self-discipline, but it’s so easy to spend a winter afternoon huddled under a blanket scrolling through Instagram or TikTok for hours. You need to make sure that you’re carving out an appropriate part of the day for schoolwork, but even when you’re finished with work, don’t turn right to the phone. Leave yourself time for your hobbies!
To get through winter, you need to stay active in clubs, organizations, and just the things you enjoy. Whether it’s drawing, singing, playing an instrument, painting, dancing or reading, you need to keep doing the things you love throughout winter. I promise you’ll need an activity to get you through the cold months.
Try to show gratitude throughout your week. Although the bitter cold and wind certainly aren’t fun, think back on the highs of your week. The snow, although cold, is really beautiful. Maybe you get a great grade on a test or you get some free time to FaceTime one of your old friends. Keep a list of the good things that happen throughout the week so you don’t let the winter blues consume you.
Stay on top of your schoolwork. So many students start to get burnt out throughout the winter and their grades suffer for it. One way to keep yourself engaged in studying is to create a nice space for yourself. Make a delicious coffee, light a candle and make a nice, organized space for yourself at your desk. Or go to the library and find a nice spot to sit and spread your stuff out. There are hundreds of study methods you can find online and try out to see which one works best for you.
The Pomodoro technique is a great time management technique for studying. It involves studying for a block of time, taking a short break, and then repeating the process. Traditionally, you would study for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and then go back to studying for another 25 minutes. After you do this three or four times, you can take a longer (15-20 minute) break. I know I can’t study effectively unless my workspace looks like a picture off of Pinterest. Find what motivates you and keeps you working effectively. I’ll let you in on a secret, though. “Hunched over in bed cramming for a test fueled by Redbull and stress” isn’t usually the most productive study method. Spread out your work throughout the week.
Get a planner and use it — on Sunday or Monday, give yourself about a half an hour to just plan out your week with classes and work. Write it all down so you have a timeline to follow. Set goals and expectations for yourself and then see them through. You’ll thank yourself when you have free time at the end of each day because you didn’t procrastinate on all of your work until the last minute.
Make plans with friends and family! You might have to get a little creative, but there’s still plenty of fun winter activities to try! Maybe go skiing for the first time or try your hand at snowboarding. Just go out with a friend to a cozy café or invite people over for movie night. No matter what, the best way to keep your spirits up throughout the winter is to keep doing things. You need something to look forward to — and maybe dinner with your grandpa or a shopping trip in downtown State College with a friend is exactly that something.
Just remember that you’re a kind, intelligent, beautiful person and you deserve to be happy and feel good this winter! Good luck fighting off those winter blues, we’re all in it together.
The post A Pennsylvanian’s Guide to Surviving Winter in Happy Valley first appeared on Her Campus.