Your Comprehensive Guide on Combating The Dead Zone this Winter


Selaam Dollisso , Online Managing Editor

Winter is coming.

Just like the Starks in Game of Thrones, we, the citizens of Ames, must prepare for the hardships of an Iowa winter. The feelings the average high schooler experiences during this dreadful season are best expressed by the iconic words of Coolio in his 1995 hit, “Gangsta’s Paradise”: “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death / I take a look at my life / And realize there’s nothing left”.

The fluff of the first couple of months of school have drifted away, and we are left to sulk in the cold for what feels like an eternity. The amount of intermittent long-weekends taper out, and it begins to feel like a race to Spring Break we’re just not winning.

Well folks, I’m here to tell you about this dreadful phenomenon that affects not just Ames High students, but everyone who experiences the joys and pitfalls of winter. It is something I like to call, The Dead Zone (TDZ).

We’ve practiced fire and tornado drills ever since we were little, but nothing has prepared us for the maelstrom that is The Dead Zone. TDZ affects everyone in different ways, like a sickness with an infinite number of symptoms. Now, I may not have a medical license, but my sister’s initials are M.D. and this is The WEB, so I’m pretty sure that’s more than enough credentials to give a diagnosis.


Jack Frost Nipping at Your Grades: Motivation, Attention and Test Scores

During TDZ, our motivation and workload are not equal: “I think that teachers feel the need to give out more homework since they think we don’t have anything going on.”, said Junior Laura Emery.

“Symptoms for me include a “screw it” attitude where I choose YouTube over homework, I eat unreasonable amounts of sugar, and I spend my free periods doing anything but the things I actually have to get done”, said Junior Caroline Paxton. 

For those of us who share similar sentiments, there is a reason why we feel this way.

Carolyn Gregoire, Senior Writer for The Huffington Post, wrote about a study on brain activity during the different seasons. Participants “test scores did not change at different times of the year, however the neural “cost” of that performance differed”. During the winter, participants used significantly less brain activity involved in attention.

“Lower activation in winter can mean that the brain is less efficient and that it will be more difficult to do the task”, explained Dr. Gilles Vandewalle, a neuroscientist at the University of Liege and the study’s lead author. The study explains how we are more prone to procrastinate in the winter, making it inherently more difficult to focus and be productive.

In addition, our metabolism can change, and with three of the most unhealthy holidays within two months of each other and low motivation to exercise, I would say that’s a recipe for disaster. Caroline gives her tips to make tasks less overwhelming: “To-do lists and goal setting. I don’t always follow them, but they at least make me feel guilty when I don’t”.

The Vice in Ice: The effects of cold weather on our mood

Senior columnist for Live Science, Laura Geggel, wrote about the effects of cold weather on our mind. Warm weather incites creativity and allows people to feel psychologically closer and more generous to others. In comparison, cold weather makes us feel distant and less connected with others.

Junior Olivia Galyon comments on her lack of patience during this frigid time:

“ I often find myself wanting to snap my phone in half… every time the alarm goes off in the winter, more than I do for any other season”.

Some ideas to combat the cold include sipping a warm cup of cocoa, sporting scarves on cold days, and making your bed as cozy as possible.

 Get fuzzy pajamas and warm blankets”, advises Laura Emery.

Basically just encase yourself in a DIY cocoon.



Hopefully these tips will help make your Dead Zone experience less miserable. Below are a few more common side effects I did not mention, however, talk to your doctor for more inquiry.



Other TDZ side effects may include:

  • Dark circles 
  • Multiple tests in one day
  • The flu
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Death

Hope you make it to March!