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21 March, 2024.

The Family Counseling Center Offers Advice on Dealing with Seasonal Changes

As spring slowly starts to make its presence known, The Family Counseling Center of Fulton County is offering advice on ways to lean into the change in positive ways.

Did you know that studies have shown “spring fever” actually exists?

Many of us feel a surge of energy as we shift from the cold, dark days of winter into the warmer days of spring. For some, spring can bring increased depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and increased mania especially for those with bi-polar disorder.

“The time change can be hard for people. Our sleep gets effected. We can feel the pressure to rush into cleaning and socializing, and we may not be ready to do any of that,” states Laressa Slater, LMSW, an Outpatient Mental Health Therapist at The Family Counseling Center.

Slater offers some advice for those of us who are having a tough time with the change in seasons.

Lean into the light

Spend more time outside in the sun. “Spending a little more time each day outside – no matter how cold – can help us adjust to the change,” says Slater. “Light therapy is another option, but it may not be easily accessible to everyone. Sunlight is free to all of us!”

Get outside or let nature in

The physical act of being in nature can actually have appositive impact on an individual’s mental health. Studies have shown that being in nature (or even just seeing pictures of nature) can reduce fear, anxiety, and stress – increasing positive feelings. “You can experience nature in all different kinds of ways,” Slater notes. “We can go for quick walks in our neighborhood, long hikes if possible, even sitting outside on your stoop can help. You don’t need to physically get outside though. I love to open my windows and get the winter out of my house. I enjoying taking note of the spring flowers like tulips beginning to emerge. These things bring me great joy and help me feel positive about the coming of spring and I don’t even need to leave my house.”

The change in weather can also bring changes in the behavior of children. “A lot of people don’t connect a kid’s allergies with their acting out,” notes Slater. “Kids don’t necessarily know how to regulate their emotions. If a child is uncomfortable and unable to breathe through their nose due to allergies, they are going to be grumpy and if they are grumpy they may act out.”

Look for support

Everyone, even those of us with anxiety issues, have one or two people we feel safe with. Friends can help support you when times are tough or when anxieties and depression begin to overwhelm. The ability to reach out and talk to friends about your worries can help prevent isolation and loneliness.

“It’s great if you can make a therapy appointment but not everyone has that as a possible outlet,” adds Slater. “No matter what kind of social anxiety or depression you have – you have a friend or family member that makes you feel safe. Those are the people who you can reach out to and talk about what’s going on. The simple act of talking about it can help alleviate some of the worries and have a positive impact on how you feel.”

Go at your own pace

“There can be pressure to ‘do the things’ of spring including cleaning house, getting out to socialize, and much more,” says Slater. “That pressure can make us feel anxious and depressed, especially if we aren’t in the emotional space to do those things.” Slater’s advice is to go at your own pace and take the time needed to adjust. “You don’t have to rush; what’s most important is that you do what feels the most comfortable for you.”