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Protecting Your Mental Wellbeing as the Seasons Change

0 2 years ago

The moment many of us have been eagerly awaiting – the start of Spring — has finally arrived! Did you know that natural medicine traditions like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine base their entire understanding of health on the distinctions between the seasons? Each season, according to these traditions, has its own set of rhythms and rituals.

As humans, our overall wellbeing is intricately tied to nature. The amount of daylight we experience, time spent in green and blue spaces like parks and meadows or lakes and rivers, seasonal foods that are locally available to us, temperature and even air quality all impact our mental wellbeing. Think about it – your body needs more energy when the weather gets colder, so you find yourself craving warm things (hot cocoa, cozy sweaters, fireplaces) that make your body’s job easier. On the flipside, summer weather wears our bodies down. Extended periods in heat can cause sleeplessness, lethargy, lack of appetite and dehydration, all of which can lead to aggressive behaviors and anxiety.

Two years into the pandemic, it’s time to recognize that things will never go back to exactly the way they were and create new practices that prioritize mental and physical wellbeing both in and out of the workplace. The seasons are changing around us with purpose, and with these five tips from Mental Health First Aid At Work, you can follow suit.

Self-Evaluation: Identify How You’re Feeling. 

Acknowledging your emotions can make things feel less overwhelming. Take some time to sort through your emotions in whatever way works best for you – journal, talk to a friend or spend some quiet time alone thinking. Once you have a better idea of the specific feelings you’re experiencing, you can start making plans to cope with them.

If you struggle to identify how you’re feeling because your mind is racing, try using the acronym S.T.O.P.

  • S: Stop what you are doing. Put things down for a moment.
  • T: Take a breath. Breathe naturally and follow your breath coming in and of your nose. You can even say to yourself “in,” as you’re breathing in and “out,” as you’re breathing out to help with concentration.
  • O: Observe your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Recognize that thoughts are not facts, and they are not permanent. If a thought arises that you are inadequate, notice the thought, let it be and move on. Research from UCLA shows that simply naming your emotions can have a calming effect. Then notice your body. Are you standing or sitting? How is your posture? Any aches or pains?
  • P: Proceed with something that will support you in the moment – like reaching out to a friend for support, rubbing your shoulders or drinking a glass of water.

Acknowledge What You’ve Lost.

While spring is typically welcomed with joy, rejuvenation and celebration, it can also be a harsh reminder that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, and we may not be able to do all the things we normally would. If you’re missing a loved one, think of ways to honor them in the new season. If you’ve lost a job or had to drop out of school, take the time to recognize the challenges that came with that and reflect on what you’ve learned. Even if you haven’t lost anything concrete, we’ve all lost our sense of normalcy to an extent since the pandemic and it’s okay—even healthy— to grieve that.


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