How to Fight Mental Health Issues and Depression in Spring

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April showers bring May flowers, and for many, spring marks a time when warmer weather and longer days are something to look forward to. For others, it may mean another form of seasonal depression.

The effect of any dramatic climate change can lead to mental health issues for many. According to Mayo Clinic, spring and summer depression can be very different from winter depression. Summertime depression can lead to increased irritability, insomnia, restlessness, or anxiety.

Here’s a list of local activities recommended by area experts to boost your mental health as we enter Greater Lansing’s warmer months:

Opt for professional relaxation

As the days get longer, downtime becomes more convenient for many. Which can lead to stress or anxiety as the options become too many. Visiting places that offer aromatherapy or essential oil treatments helps lessen the impact of these feelings on the brain.

According to National Library of Medicine, tools like essential oils, which have been used for centuries, help manage depression, chronic pain, anxiety, and other cognitive disorders. Places that offer massage, meditation, or even yoga can also help improve and improve both mind and body.

Douglas J medspa's relaxation area allows for private relaxation.

Here are some local places that offer relaxation amenities:

Listen to your body to sleep better

Sleep and mental health are closely linked, according to Kim Fenn, an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University. Sleeping too much or too little can lead to higher rates of anxiety, depression and memory loss. It is important to identify what could be causing a disrupted sleep schedule and how it is impacting your daily life.

Fenn is part of several research projects on false memory and sleep. MSU has a Sleep and Learning Lab in which people can help participate in research into the psychological functions of sleep.

“Most people tend to get too little sleep during the week and then catch up by sleeping on the weekends,” Fenn said. “Typically, we can’t change our wake-up time, but we can be more alert by going to bed early enough to allow for 7 or 8 hours of sleep.”

Other tips:

  • Maximize comfort: Make sure the mattress, pillows and your clothes don’t put excessive pressure on the body.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Having a “detox period” before sleep can improve REM and reduce restlessness throughout the night.
  • Block out all light: Minimize the amount of light entering the room or, if that’s not possible, consider a face mask.

the Complete sleep center in East Lansing offers home sleep apnea testing and other services to help enhance a good night’s rest.

Limit your smartphone use and screen time

According to JAMA Pediatrics, screen time has doubled for teens since the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work has also forced many adults to sit in front of a screen for hours. Being on social media for long periods of time can also cause users to dissociate from others and further isolate themselves.

Working remotely, many have seen increased hours in front of screens and on smartphones.  Limiting those hours is essential for mental health, experts say.

To help limit screen time, Apple and android have implemented features that allow users to limit the time they spend on their smartphones. Another easy way is to create phone-free zones in your home. Placing the laptop in another room or placing a device out of direct view is another effective tool to limit your time on your smartphone or other screens.

Find pet therapy

Research suggests that spending time with animals helps reduce anxiety – even more so than many other recreational activities. A pet provides a great escape, but not everyone has the time to care for it.

Contrary to a semi-popular belief among dog owners, a harness is not a great way to walk your dog.

Here are some of the places around Grand Lansing where you can interact with animals even if you don’t have time for a pet:

Veronica Bolanos is a press assistant at the Lansing State Journal. Contact her at VBolanos@lsj.com or 517.267.0460. Follow her on Twitter @BVeronica19.

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