There is light at the end of the… school year

SUN AND SAND FUN: Açaí bowls are really tasting like summer. (Michelle Monier)

Mea Marvin | Opinion Editor

January 31, 2024

Let’s be honest: after Christmastime, winter can kind of be a drag. Waking up every day to cloudy skies and bone-chilling weather is not very motivating. Yet, high school students were given a glimmer of hope on January 27th— a day when everyone in San Clemente woke up to the sun greeting them with its warm and gentle rays; walking outside as the breeze smelled of hope and freedom. 

Multiple studies exemplify that seasonal depression is very common as the days get shorter and the temperature drops. This can be detrimental to students trying to brave their second semester, and these ‘winter blues’ are serious. Concentration levels and productivity rates are negatively impacted, making already stressed-out teenagers more burdened. Motivation decreases as our bodies and minds become exhausted and weak, and it is a struggle to pull ourselves out of bed each morning.

“Junior year is already such a struggle and it’s even worse when I have to go to school when it is cloudy and freezing cold,” said junior Emily Ohman. “It just makes me not want to go.”

LOST WINDS was the place to be! San Clemente basked in the sun. (Emily Ohman)

Why does this lack of motivation seemingly occur every winter but resolve in summer?

Reduced sunlight in winter months is the main cause of drowsiness or fatigue. Our body naturally produces a hormone called melatonin which helps us fall asleep. This hormone reacts to darkness, so when there are fewer hours of daylight, our bodies automatically want to go to bed. Now imagine sitting in the last class of the day, already fighting off mental exhaustion, and our bodies are forcibly trying to get us to fall asleep on top of that.

Yet another factor directly caused by the lack of sun in the winter is temperature levels. When it is below 65 degrees, our bodies slow down our metabolism to conserve energy, almost as if we are bears going into hibernation.

These circumstances make going to school even more of a grapple. That’s why days like Saturday the 27th are so valued. The sun was out and for the first time in a few months and the temperature exceeded 73 degrees. 

Scientifically, the sun provides so many health benefits such as Vitamin D (which is essential to bodily function and good sleep), a boosted immune system, regulation of circadian rhythms, and so many more mental health advantages. 

So on this past warm Saturday, high schoolers flooded to their favorite beaches, looking to savor the sunny day while it lasted. 

Michelle Monier attended the beach on this day and explained, “Life can be really chaotic and busy. You always have to do one thing after the next as a student. The peacefulness of the beach on those rare days is [her] favorite part about going to school in OC.”

Michelle described how she was able to enjoy her typical favorite summer treat, aloha açai bowls, and play volleyball in the sand with her friends. These moments are what everyone grabs ahold of while trying to push through finals and AP tests. It is a helpful reminder that summer will come and so will relief from the school year. 

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