The start of Spring can often give people a renewed sense of hope, happiness, and motivation; giving them a kick start into a happier and healthier mental state – but that’s not the case for everyone. Here are some of the reasons why…
- Longer days can make it tempting to stay up later, which often means less sleep.
- Spring/Summer can cause anxiety, irritability and agitation (Autumn/Winter in turn can cause symptoms of depression).
- Our expectations of what we should or shouldn’t be doing may not be realistic causing feelings of failure.
- Comparing yourself to others being ‘outdoorsy’ or ‘healthy’ can cause negative feelings about your body or lifestyle.
The nature of the shift from winter to spring can disrupt mental health in several ways(1):
- Changing light: Our circadian rhythms change with the increased length and intensity of sunlight, affecting sleep-wake cycles, energy, and mood. Studies have shown that both suicide rates and manic episodes of bipolar disorder peak during the spring season due to change in our circadian rhythm(2).
- Differing routines: While it can be refreshing to be able to spend more time outdoors and do different activities, it’s still a change our minds and bodies must adjust to. A change in routine will have an impact on anxiety and stress.
- Expectations: Often, we feel we should be happy and active because it’s spring. The sight of other people enjoying the sunshine can make us hard on ourselves if we simply can’t muster the energy or desire to do so, too. Imposing expectations on ourselves can make anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders worse.
The start of spring can indeed negatively impact mental health. Practicing self-care and even working with a mental health professional can help you through it.
With this in mind here are 10 things you can do to boost your mental health. Adopting all or any one of these will have a positive impact on your mental health, regardless of the season. Try picking one to start with and see how you go…
- SLEEP – Try putting your phone away before bed and setting yourself an earlier bedtime. Try a 5 minute meditation to help the process. Setting new habits for your sleep can only benefit you in the long run.
- MAKE SMALL CHANGES AROUND YOU.. FOR YOU! Spring often urges people to redecorate, rearrange furniture, declutter, try a new clothing style or hair do. Any visual change can give you a burst of energy and enthusiasm so why not give it a go. Trying new things can improve cognitive flexibility and create new mental pathways.
- TAKE STOCK OF NEGATIVE ENERGY – If you are being dragged down by things, people or situations around you, take stock of all of it. Try and find ways to minimise negative energy around you or ways to support or deal with them differently.. Negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity.
- PRACTICE GRATITUDE – Practising gratitude regularly is proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that a single thought of gratitude produces an immediate 10% increase in happiness. Try keeping a note book with you and write down anything, words or sentences or pictures. Try to include feelings of gratitude around yourself and your own body.
- RECONNECT SOCIALLY – If you have found that Winter has kept you indoors and alone for a lot of the time, try and meet a friend for coffee or join a social group. An outdoor fitness class or bootcamp is also a great option that will provide mental and physical stimulation along with stress relief and laughter.
- SET A GOAL – It doesn’t have to be big, it could be as small as clearing out your wardrobe (I can help with that!) or tidying up the garden. Whatever it is, plan it into your diary, small pieces at a time and you’ll get there. Goal setting is a great way to increase motivation going forward and starting small is fine.
- PLAN A TRIP – It’s a lovely feeling when you have a holiday to look forward to. Travel has been linked to greater happiness, empathy and creativity so whether it’s long or short, near or far, try and set that time aside for yourself. A change of scenery works wonders for your mental health.
- GO OUTSIDE – This doesn’t have to mean exercising outside, it could be sitting outside peacefully listening to the sounds around you… no screens. Look up at the sky and get that sense of awe. Even 5 minutes of this has a positive impact on your mental health and can increase your motivation to improve your life going forward.
- BE KIND TO YOURSELF… AND OTHERS – One of the most effective ways to alleviate stress, worry and anxiety is to practise self-kindness and compassion… to yourself and to others. This could mean paying someone (or yourself) a compliment or doing an activity you love. An act of kindness makes the brain’s pleasure and reward centre light up and releases the feel good hormone which has a calming affect and stimulates positive feelings in the body.
- VALIDATE YOUR FEELINGS – All of us love external validation from others but when we rely on this we then don’t trust our own thoughts, feelings and judgements and instead let others dictate our worth. During those times when you are feeling a low, being able to validate your own feelings is a great power. Using it can better equip us to manage the range of emotions we feel. Here’s more info on this.
So no matter what you, social media, or those around you think you “should” be, feel, and do, sometimes you feel differently. The change in seasons can have an impact on this, sometimes better, sometimes worse. At IntoYou, we will support you being, feeling, and doing you! No apologies. No regrets. You are important too!
If you think you may need some counselling, or just need a self esteem boost and wardrobe change, you can book in with me here.
- Cho, C-H., & Lee, H-J. (2018, March). Why do mania and suicide occur most often in the spring? Psychiatry Investigation, 15(3): 232-234. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5900367/