It’s that time of year again: the days are getting longer, warm rays of sunshine have started peaking through the now blue sky, and tulip buds are popping out of the ground. If you’ve lived through a bone-chilling winter here in the beehive state, then, you know about the need for light. It’s no secret that thousands of Utah residents struggle with seasonal depression. If you’re one of them, we hope that you’ll take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Here are some tips and tricks to help you on your way to a successful spring mental health renewal.

What is Depression?

People often equate depression with sadness and emotional distress. While that can be true of some individuals, most do not feel bouts of depression that way. In fact, many individuals feel hopeless, lose interest in their hobbies and day-to-day activities, feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks, struggle with a loss of appetite or find themselves eating their feelings, battle sleep, feel irritated or angry, or even begin acting out recklessly (i.e. acting rashly with no thought of consequences, excessive spending, etc.).

What is Seasonal Depression?

Individuals who struggle with seasonal depression struggle with the short, cold, and often gray days of winter.  Their natural source of Vitamin D in the sun is away for the season and it literally affects the serotonin in the brain.

Recognize Your Depression

It’s important to recognize if you struggle with these types of symptoms. Once you recognize and accept this, you can do something about it. For some, this means adjusting small things that can greatly impact their happiness and state of being. For others, it means counseling and therapy with a licensed and trained professional. Still, others need medication to rectify the imbalance in their brain. The important thing is that you get the help you need.

Tips and Tricks for a Healthy Mind

Tell Someone

  • The worst part about depression is that it can feel isolating. Choose to confide in a trusted confidante. Share with them how you’re honestly feeling. This can alleviate a huge burden, and chances are that this friend has either experienced it themselves or knows someone who has gone through it. Don’t battle this alone.

  • Set up an appointment with a counselor. Trained professionals can teach you coping skills and give you ideas about how to combat your suffering. The great thing about them is that they offer an unbiased, outsider’s perspective, so they can help you see things more clearly and help validate your feelings. Come prepared to learn and grow, so that you can get the most out of your therapy sessions.


Consult a Doctor

  • Modern medicine is an amazing benefit. Sometimes, individuals just need the slightest correction to the chemicals in their brain and that can make a world of difference. Your doctor may not prescribe medication but they will prescribe therapy or other natural bits of help.


Exercise

  • Science has proven that when we exercise, it literally changes the chemicals and endorphins in our brains. Get out there and get moving. A brisk 15-minute walk a day will help keep you healthy and on track for great mental awareness.


Have a Game Plan

  • If you know that you struggle during certain times of the year, prepare for it. Keep a list of things and people that make you happy. Choose to employ one of those daily. If you need the sunshine, make sure to take walks outside or lunch outside as often as possible. Surround yourself with things that will uplift you daily. When you find yourself in a bind, call on your list of safe friends and family and confide in them. Let them know you’re having a mental health day and you need their help.


Don’t Be Afraid of Medication

  • If your doctor has prescribed you medication, take it. Many of those medications do not work overnight. It’s important to consistently take the medications on a daily basis and follow the instructions listed. While you may not feel immediate effects, your consistent compliance will help you over time.


Choose a Healthy Lifestyle

  • In addition to regular exercise, control your sleep cycle by practicing healthy patterns of going to bed at a decent hour each night and limiting electronics. Pay attention to the types of foods you put in your body and the exposure to the sun. Simply getting outside can do a world of good if you notice you’ve been practicing too much self-isolation. If you need to be outside often, take proper measures to protect your skin. Be mindful of balance and self-care. As you strive to live a healthy lifestyle, your outer appearance will begin reflecting the positive changes you have made inward.

Renew Again

 

Life is a great balancing act. Just like a spring cleaning of your home, take inventory of your vessel and sweep out the bad. Choose to practice positive behaviors to ever improve your mental health. As you practice them more, they’ll become habits that can carry you through those seasonal depressions and dips that are the ebb and flow of your mental health. Happy spring mental health renewal!