Springtime in Alaska posts a sad statistic. The number of homicides, assaults and other forms of bad behavior is on the rise. Tragically, suicides also increase during the months of March and April. The number of Alaskans who are affected by suicide, homicide, assault and other violent encounters rises significantly. The increased light is welcomed and the warmth of the sun and the promise of new life is celebrated. And yet, springtime is also a time of struggle for many. What people often experience is an undercurrent of agitation with symptoms of depression or anxiety. People struggling with other mental health issues also seem to find spring-time more difficult. This phenomena seems different then what happens in the fall when the sun starts going away. In the fall the presenting symptoms are mostly about depression. In the spring, the symptoms are more about irritation or outright aggression. So the question is “How do I know and what do I do if I’m affected?”
It is very important to be self-aware. “Do I find myself angry or irritated for no apparent reason?” “Do I tend to ‘lose it’ over minor frustrations?” “Am I being overly emotional, or at least more emotional than usual?” The increased emotion and irritability we feel might simply be our body coming out of hibernation. So often we’re not ready to deal with the increased stimuli that comes with increased sunlight and other stimulation. Bothersome emotions and troublesome behaviors can be our body’s attempts to cope. However, those emotions and behavior are ways our body tells us that we are not coping well and may need a little help. If you find yourself nodding as you read this, it might be time to focus on some good self-care and get help if needed. People do best when they engage simple but important mental health hygiene. This takes a bit of effort, but the results are totally worth it!
- Get enough sleep. Everyone has their own set point, but regular bed and wake times are important.
- Get regular exercise. The sun is coming back, the temperatures are climbing. There’s no excuse not to get outside and end the hibernation. – This REALLY helps!!
- Eat regular meals. Adequate nutrition is a must. Junk food doesn’t count!! Eat healthy meals that are nutritionally balanced!
- Have regular, positive, social contact. When people are grumpy or irritated this can be a tough one, but it doesn’t mean you can skip it. Go find someone to talk to – and play nice!
These are 4 simple suggestions that can really help. Oh – also, when you’re feeling irritated, stop and take a breath. Remember it’s that time of the year and things will get better soon. The snow is melting, the sun is warmer, in short order the trees will start budding and the grass will turn green. After that come the mosquitoes. By then you’ll feel much better!!
With all that said, if you find yourself struggling, please get help. Hope Counseling Center has many resources and can help you make springtime a time of joy and new beginnings. Let us know how we can help.
Hope Counseling Center
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