Who Needs Maslow, Anyway?

Posted by at 12:47AM

“The HAPPY LAMP has arrived!”
General hullabaloo ensued.
This was the enthusiastic arm-waving excitement generated by the arrival of the HappyLight Deluxe Sunshine Supplement Light System (as seen on the Martha Stewart Show). In that moment, all the gnawing predicaments of mundane daily life seemed to melt into the ethereal glow of therapeutic glow generated by 19-inch-by-13-inch frosted lamp pane.
No more hiccupy sleep disruptions, no more sluggish lethargy… No more sudden flares of unexplained annoyance… (No more awkward conversation starters and no more harrowing personal insecurities. No more being side-splashed by cyclists riding through puddles! Hell, why not shoot for the stars: no more IHUM readings! No more lines at the Axe and Palm! No more clumps in the dining hall breakfast oatmeal!)
SAD no more!
All hyperbole aside, however, I do sincerely believe that Seasonal Affective Disorder is an issue worth addressing. It’s not just a slightly pathetic, ironically amusing acronym. Campus culture at Stanford is notoriously chirpy and fast-paced. Thus, a lot of persisting concerns are submerged under choppy schedules that make students too busy to introspect. It’s ridiculously easy to feel guilty about operating on an emotional level even slightly less peppy than that of a pre-teen riding a sugar high.
What of the reports that peg U.S. undergraduate depression diagnosis rates at 14.9%? The 2005 Harvard Crimson revelation that 80% of its students were experiencing mental health problems?
A lot of the ways in which mood disorders/mental health issues are addressed appear ineffectual and gimmicky, it’s true. Bright yellow vitamin D pills and free-form doodling with crayons can hardly be described otherwise. But just as few academic resources are allowed to remain stagnant and underutilized (burgeoning ranks of residential tutors, the recent freshman inundation of the CDC’s Open House), campus well-being resources such as The BRIDGE and Vaden’s CAPS program should not be dismissed as irrelevant in times of dire need. But before I start to sound overly bland and blase (it’s really probably too late to remedy that), there’s always the kernel of real pleasure to found in taking a short walk in the bracing air between bouts of rain. Allow your brain to unclench from academic and extracurricular stressors at least a few moments each day.
It’s really incredibly difficult to give this kind of advice without sounding like a caricature of some peroxide-bleached shrink figure, I realize. But don’t worry… I’m just slightly dazed from the residual glare of the omniscient HappyLight deity, that’s all.

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