| Written by Amanda Costantino, MSW, LCSW
If you’re like most people, you have probably noticed that your mood tends to be lower in the fall or winter season. We spend several months being indoors, avoiding the cold temperatures and bleak skies. This isn’t just a coincidence that many people experience this change in mood around the same time of year.
Our brains are actually impacted by the reduction in sunlight we experience during the fall and winter months, leading to a drop in serotonin levels (one of the feel-good hormones). This can lead to symptoms of low mood, irritability, sadness, fatigue, lack of motivation or hopelessness.
Thankfully, we know there is a sense of hope and excitement that comes from the transition into the warmer months, and Spring is fast approaching! One of my favorite quotes to share with my clients is, “If flowers can teach themselves how to bloom after winter passes, so can you.” It’s so powerful when you think about it…that the beautiful flowers and plants we see this time of year are blossoming after a dull, lifeless winter. We witness them come alive over and over again each spring to start anew.
Springtime motivates us to make changes and potentially do some “spring cleaning” to prepare for the warmer months ahead.
Spring has a way of making us feel alive again; it’s a fresh start.
Below are some ways you can do some “spring cleaning,” literally, and figuratively, to get a fresh start for your mental health this season.
1. Do some spring cleaning, literally
There are a lot of studies that show connections between the cleanliness of our physical living space to the well-being of our mental space. Have you ever put a lot of effort into cleaning your room or part of your house? You know that feeling you get when you’re finally done cleaning, and you can sit down in your clean space and just breathe a sigh of relief? That’s the connection!
When we walk into a clean and organized space, we feel calmer and more at ease. The actual physical act of cleaning can also be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety as we get our body moving (more on movement later!).
- Breakdown cleaning into small tasks, pick one or two areas to start with
- Reduce clutter by going through clothing, toys, or products to donate or just get rid of
- Open up your windows and let the fresh air circulate through your home
2. Get outside
This is what we’ve been waiting for… use the sunlight while we have it!
Getting outside and enjoying the weather can benefit you in so many different ways. Whether it’s taking a walk in your neighborhood park or doing some gardening, physical movement can help to reduce cortisol in the body and relieve your overall stress levels.
- Be outside and connect with nature
- Be social and active with other people
- Go for walks, bike rides, or even go for a drive with the windows down!
3. Take care of yourself
Did you know there are seven different types of self-care? This means self-care is more than just face masks and bubble baths…it’s the little things! From hugging your partner to buying yourself flowers, or taking 10 minutes to yourself to enjoy your coffee in the morning, self-care can literally be anything that, well, makes you feel good!
Research shows that having a daily self-care routine to follow can actually help you to build more confidence and happiness, and can overall reduce your day-to-day experience of anxiety and stress.
If you’re heading into the springtime noticing that you could use some more self-care in your life, this is the time to get started! The warm weather can open up many opportunities for us to energize ourselves to be active, socialize, and to try new things.
4. Set new goals and be kind to yourself
Change can be hard for anyone. Spring is a symbol for “starting over” and allowing change to happen. But, we also know that the blossoming of the beautiful things we get in Spring does not happen overnight. Do your best to be mindful of any judgments you may be having of yourself from any “new year resolutions” that may not have worked out the way you planned so far this year. Being critical to ourselves, especially when attempting to make changes in our lives, can be the biggest obstacle we experience.
- Think about what you’d like to achieve for yourself in the next weeks or months
- Set a small goal that is realistic for where you’re at in your life
- Accept that we may not always be where we want to be, but we’re still somewhere now
- Use positive self-statements to practice acknowledging your worth, no matter where you are in your progress. Here is a list of positive affirmations to inspire you.
5. Allow yourself to feel good and enjoy things
Having a low mood for a few months can come with a lot of negative, mental energy. Try challenging this negative energy with some gratitude and acceptance.
Studies have shown that when doing any sort of gratitude practice over a period of time, people have reported better sleep quality, lower levels of stress, and improved relationships with those around them. It can feel liberating to acknowledge all the things that make us happy and content in our lives, and knowing that those things have been present with us all along.
- Give yourself credit for doing the things you already do for yourself and others, and express gratitude for the people and things you already have in your life.
- Make a list of things you appreciate in your life
- Write a letter to yourself or someone else expressing thanks
- Reflect in a journal about anything positive from your day
Reach Out to a Counselor to Help
If you find you are having a hard time making a positive transition into the warmer seasons, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional to help you make the most of your Spring and get a fresh start on your mental health.
When she’s not working, Amanda loves to spend time in her home with her husband and two rescue dogs. Amanda also enjoys baking and cooking, especially when she’s able to share her creations with her family.
Amanda is determined to foster strong, therapeutic connections with her clients as she believes that everyone deserves to have a space where they feel heard and are safe to heal at their own pace.
EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury, NJ, and accepts a variety of insurances.
Check out Amanda’s professional bio here!
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