Time Change and Mental Health

It’s darker, it’s colder, and I’m busier. This time of year is hard for a lot of folks. Clients who have been managing well suddenly see themselves needing more support. Things just change at this time of year. Everybody is sick, we have to spend more time indoors, lots of people are having a hard time adjusting to life back in an office or back in school after the summer. Oh yea – and then there is a very stressful election tomorrow. What does all of this mean for us and our mental health? For a lot of people, it’s not good news. I know that I find working after the sun goes down mentally just a different load than having time and daylight to burn once I log off for the day. Though I don’t think my perspective is exactly balanced because of the two small children I have that make the clocks changing an exercise in pure torture. 

I wish that I had a magic formula for this time of year. I often find myself busier than ever trying to help people feel better. School is getting more stressful, work is becoming more exhausting, and the holidays are certainly not happy for everybody. Some things that can really help are spending time outside (perhaps during your lunch break since after work tends to be dark now). Getting off of your phone and stopping the “doom scrolling” and gazing longingly at curated and often staged moments of perfection on social media can really help with feelings of inadequacy or envy.

If you can’t put down the phone, try finding accounts that offer realistic perspectives with a balanced approach to their content. Reading a good book is one of my favorite substitutes for mindless scrolling. Also, research shows that engaging in creative activities can help with these feelings. Maybe time for a painting class or simply a good coloring book!

What can I say about this time? Just be gentle with yourself. It is normal to feel lower as we lose the daylight and transition seasons. Seasonal Affective Disorder is entering the arena! Be patient and seek help if you feel like you aren’t coping effectively.  

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