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5 Ways to Manage Depression During Gloomy Fall Days

As the days get shorter, you begin to feel the familiar crunch of leaves beneath your feet, and the desire for hot cider and donuts, pumpkin patches, and apples. These observations are tall tale signs of Michigan fall time. In living in this state nearly my whole life, it is apparent that fall time is a popular season for the state.

While hay rides, fall color tours, and the hype of fall football are exciting activities, it can be difficult to participate with depression symptoms lurking around every corner. COVID-19 has dramatically changed our current lifestyles. The same fall activities might look a little different this year, which can leave us feeling sad, disappointed and hopeless. How do we manage our mental health during all of this anyway? Here are my top 5 tips on managing depression symptoms:

1. Give Yourself Grace: Giving yourself “grace” means being kind to yourself. It means not being hard on yourself whether you make a mistake or your to-do list feels out of control. Giving grace is when someone shows you acceptance and forgiveness when maybe you snapped at them earlier. Grace is a form of self-compassion. Asking yourself, what would I say to my best friend if he/she was going through this? Small acts of kindness and self-care can help shift you into a more compassionate headspace.

2. Get Outside: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing,” is a common Scandinavian mantra that often is repeated by parents in an effort to involve their children outside. However, this same theory also easily applies to adults. A scientific field called ecotherapy, is based on the idea that nature provides humans with a balance because humans and nature are connected. Therefore, when we take the time to connect and involve ourselves in nature, we get great benefits like reduced stress and depression. Setting small goals to get yourself outside can be beneficial both physically and mentally.

3. Try Light Therapy: Light Therapy has been noted as an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Light therapy is simply exposure to light from an artificial light source, mimicking sunlight, which is something we start to miss out on when the weather turns colder. Sunlight triggers our body’s production of vitamin D, which can lower blood pressure and even help with brain function. During light therapy, you sit near a light therapy lamp for about 10 to 15 minutes. It is recommended to do this in the morning and schedule your light therapy sessions for consistency. There can be side effects so it is important to discuss any medical concerns with your doctor.

4. Exercise: Exercising has a variety of physical and mental health benefits. One of the biggest hurdles of exercise is getting started. It is helpful to start small, starting with 5 to 10 minutes of any physical activity you enjoy can quickly lead to 20 to 30 minutes of activity. Similar to light therapy, setting up specific times and “scheduling” your exercise is a helpful way to maintain the habit. There are free apps, YouTube videos and websites dedicated to making exercise easier to access. Start with small goals, schedule your activities, and succeed!

5. Schedule a Session: Irritability, issues with sleep, increased anxiety, and difficulty concentrating can all be symptoms of depression. Reaching out to a loved one or a counselor to explain how you are feeling can have a wide variety of benefits. Noticing and understanding your depression with a licensed professional can help you learn ways to better react to situations and feel more in control of your depression. You can gain new ideas to manage stress and process “yuck” that contributes to symptoms.

Depression affects millions of people and it is important to know you are not alone in this battle. Reach out and schedule an appointment, as counselors are here to fight with you so you can better enjoy the beauty and magic of fall time in Michigan.

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