The changing of the seasons and the start of the warmer months is generally associated with growth, rebirth, and a frenzy of flowers pushing out of the barren, thawing, soil. We see shining faces and blue skies across all media platforms, claiming that simple #springcleaning is the key to mental well-being and a sunny disposition. However, the changing of the seasons is not the end all cure for seasonal depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. In fact, the spring and early summer months see the highest rates of suicide, and many people experience increased depression and anxiety. Why does this happen, and what are some steps we can take to make it through the changing of the seasons?
Why does spring affect mental health?
One of the major reasons people may feel more depressed and anxious in the springtime is simply because of change. For some people, change feels like an exciting opportunity, while others may feel an intense instability in their lives. Change as school becomes summer vacation, change in the weather, and change in daily routines can all produce overwhelming anxiety.
Springtime is also associated with major life events, like graduations or weddings. These special occasions are often associated with big parties, social events, and family interactions which may trigger intense feelings of anxiety. Memories of these events may also produce feelings of deep nostalgia or melancholy, potentially triggering depressive thoughts.
Other factors may be physiological. Many people experience spring allergies, where our immune systems are working twice as hard to feel twice as crumby for days on end. Our bodies and our minds might feel helplessly depleted during the height of hay fever. Hormones, specifically melatonin, might also contribute to mood changes in the springtime. This hormone plays a vital role in regulating our sleep cycles, and any change in this system may produce sleep problems or grogginess, which is never beneficial to our mental health.
What can you do to make it through the spring?
Find Routine- despite the changes spring might bring, try to find at least one consistent activity for your week to look forward to. This could look like Monday evening walks with your dog, a Friday lunch with friends, or a few dedicated hours to selfcare each Sunday.
Focus on sleep- While this is much easier said than done, try to prioritize sleep! Set two alarms, one that tells you to GO TO BED, and one that tells you to WAKE UP. Try to keep it consistent throughout the week.
Ask for help- If you know spring is a difficult time for you, reach out to friends or family for a support system. Seek out a therapist or treatment to help you process your feelings