Post image

Sowing the Spring of Positive Mental Health

The snow clears, the sun stays longer and people start to get outside. The arrival of spring means the winter blues lift from Naperville (IL) and leave us in a better mood – right?

Ideally, but perhaps not always. For some of us, spring is indeed a time of renewal and a fresh outlook. For others, their mood can remain unclear as they continue seeking peace of mind.

Wherever we might find ourselves, spring cleaning for all of us can include polishing our mindset and skills in embracing peace and good health.

Springtime Mental Health: It’s Not Just SAD in Winter

Seasonal depression – also referred to as SAD (seasonal affective disorder) – isn’t limited to winter and fall. Some of us in Naperville can also undergo a reverse type of SAD in which our mood changes begin in spring and carry through summer.

This idea might be new to some, as SAD is typically associated with the colder, darker months. For those who experience an onset of depression in spring, it’s actually the longer days, better weather and perpetual blooming that can initiate the condition.

While less common than fall and winter SAD, seasonal depression in spring bears its own symptoms. Individuals who don’t fare well in warm weather may find themselves increasingly uncomfortable in spring.

Some people also may be sensitive to extra sunshine and longer daylight hours, which leave them feeling sluggish, restless and irritable. Additional sunlight and longer days further can interfere with some people’s circadian rhythms, disrupting their sleep cycles.

With winter depression, less sunlight can produce a decrease in serotonin and an increase in melatonin. Spring depression is thought to follow an opposite pattern in which more sunlight prompts the body to produce less melatonin, thereby reducing sleep, and increase serotonin. Just as low serotonin can potentially cause depression, overactive serotonin can lead to other mental-health challenges such as social anxiety.

Springtime Mental Health: We All Qualify

We don’t have to be dealing with seasonal depression to benefit from tools and principles of positive mental health in springtime. Some of us in Naperville may be working through occasional patterns of depression or anxiety. Others may be treating a more sustained condition such as:

  • personality disorder
  • self-harm
  • suicidal ideation
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • eating disorder
  • addiction
  • bipolar disorder
  • ADHD

Regardless of our situation, the inspiring truth is that we can focus on the mastery of constructive, positive feelings and thoughts that guide us closer to healing and peace.

Just a few ways you can sow positive mental health this spring include:

getting outside if it is helpful. As we touched on, sunlight encourages natural serotonin production, which can help regulate our mood. It also provides Vitamin D our body needs (it’s vital for bone strength). Go for a walk, visit a park, attend a festival or farmer’s market, sit in the bleachers at a ball game – spring activities can enrich our quality of life.

pursuing what motivates you. Spring is a wonderful time to get going on what excites you or makes you happy, be it biking, hiking, painting or gardening. Our projects and hobbies can provide a big boost of mental clarity and positive self-worth.

connecting with family and friends. Winter can make some of us burrow in rather than reach out. Spring opens channels for connections with people we care about. Schedule a picnic or barbecue, take a walk in the park, enjoy dinner and live music at a favorite location with friends – being with others is good for our mind, heart and soul.

Springtime Mental Health: Supportive Therapy

We further reinforce our mental well-being when we develop and maintain healthy, realistic thoughts and attitudes.

For example, we might be accustomed to thinking a certain way, but the truth may often be different. Few things in this world are strictly black and white – much of what we perceive and experience occupies the gray where both colors meet.

At Eunoia Counseling, we help our Naperville clients develop continuing mastery of their thoughts and interpretations. Every person will have their own distinctive challenges, and together we approach their healing and growth one meaningful step a time.

An often effective therapy for negative thinking or intense and difficult emotions is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). A modified form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), DBT teaches us how to live more presently, deal with stress, manage our feelings and enhance our relations with others.

The word “dialectical” itself applies to the combining of opposite ideas for achieving knowledge, reason and understanding. The dialectic component of DBT acknowledges that real life is complex and ever-changing. It aims at balancing opposing forces and exploring the truth behind negative emotions.

In doing so, it creates a growing awareness for the need to change within a context of conscious acceptance. It recognizes that feelings are a steady but often inconsistent stream, and we do not need to be consumed or directed by them. Through DBT, individuals can develop healthy, positive coping strategies that can last a lifetime.

The four main pillars of DBT are:

mindfulness. This skill helps us focus on the present and live in the moment (as opposed to the past, which is irretrievable, and the future, which doesn’t yet exist). Such awareness gives us more command of our shifting internal weather and our ability to interpret it without judgment. Through mindfulness, we can slow down and calm in the midst of emotional pain and, in doing so, reduce its sway over us.

distress tolerance. By being prepared for strong emotions, we can manage them from a clearer, more positive long-term stance. Techniques might include locating proper distractions, helping to improve the moment and soothing ourselves (e.g. through breathing methods).

emotional regulation. When we can identify, name and characterize our emotions, we can better change and control them. The result is often greater peace and inner light with less vulnerability.

interpersonal effectiveness. Maintaining healthy relationships with others calls upon us to be properly assertive in them, such as setting personal boundaries and knowing how to express what we want and when to say “no.” DBT reinforces the listening and communicating that contribute to interpersonal effectiveness with respect for others and ourselves.

At Eunoia Counseling, we have seen how DBT can impact many different people regardless of their age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and race/ethnicity. For us, it is always a joy to see our clients heal and grow with strengthening thoughts and an extra “spring” in their step.

Springtime Mental Health for Naperville (IL): Contact Us Today

Eunoia Counseling provides Naperville with professional clinical counseling that allows for personal pause, reflection, healing and growth. If you or someone you care about would like to discuss therapy or counseling in a safe, productive, confidential space, we welcome you to contact us at (630) 340-8747 or info@eunoiacounselingnaperville.com.