Warmer weather a balm for students’ mental health


A bed of flowers blows in the wind outside the Gatton Student Center on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Rachel Crick

Saturday, March 20 was the first official day of Spring. Along with higher temperatures, the season may also bring improved mental health and a renewed sense of hope in the face of the past year’s challenges.

Students on UK’s campus spent the first weekend of spring taking advantage of the warmer weather to study and spend time with friends outdoors. Many lounged on the lawns of the William T. Young Library or even set up hammocks in shady areas of campus.

“Days like today are exciting,” said Madeline Imler, a sophomore double majoring in history and anthropology. Imler added she’s looking forward to seeing the sun and enjoying nicer walks to class.

Others mentioned the warmer weather made it easier for them to socialize safely.

“It’s nice to see other people and not be cooped up indoors,” said Audrey Bratcher, a freshman digital media and design and history double major.

Winter can be harsh for some students, and this winter was especially dreary due to the social isolation and uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, because of the warmer and sunnier conditions, some students said they had noticed a positive change in their mental health.

“I do have Seasonal Affective Disorder so it definitely feels better now that it’s warmer out,” public health major Caroline Parmelee said.

It’s not just the weather that’s giving students a more positive outlook. As a growing number of Kentuckians receive their vaccinations and the state’s COVID-19 case numbers continue their decline, some are looking ahead to life beyond the pandemic, over a year after it began.

“I think the year-long milestone was kind of a hard one for everyone,” said Imler. “But I feel like we are rounding a corner…this spring is kind of filled with hope in that.”

“This time last year we were really confused and still no one really knew what was going on…We’re still not sure how safe everything is, but I think we’re getting there,” Bratcher said.

However, despite the enjoyment and hope they’re experiencing, some students are also voicing concerns about the potential for COVID-19 precautions to be prematurely abandoned.

Geurin Kimmel, a political science and media arts and studies double major, said he noticed many students failing to social distance.

“A lot of students are already pretending like Covid is not a thing that exists right now,” Kimmel said.

Others said they feared the warm weather would make fewer people want to mask up.

“I know it’s kind of getting harder with the warmer weather, but I hope people continue to do that,” Imler said.