April showers bring May flowers and, for many, spring marks a time when weather is getting warmer and lengthening days are something to look forward to. For others, it can mean a different form of seasonal depression.
The effect of any dramatic weather shifts can lead to mental health challenges for many. According to the Mayo Clinic, spring and summer depression can greatly differ from winter depression. Summer depression can lead to increased irritability, insomnia, restlessness or anxiety.
Here is a list of local activities area experts recommend to help improve your mental health, as we enter the warmer months in Greater Lansing:
Go for professional relaxation
As the days start to get longer, downtime becomes more convenient for many. Which can lead to stress or anxiety as options become too plentiful. Visiting places that offer aromatherapy or essential oil treatments help ease the way these feelings impact the brain.
According to the National Library of Medicine, tools like essential oils — which have been used for centuries — help manage depression, chronic pain, anxiety and other cognitive disorders. Locations that provide massages, meditation or even yoga can also help benefit and improve both the mind and body.
Here are a few local spots that offer relaxation amenities:
Listen to your body for better sleep
Sleep and mental health are closely aligned, according to Kim Fenn, associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University. Getting too much or too little sleep can lead to higher rates of anxiety, depression and memory loss. It is important to identify what might be the cause of a disrupted sleep schedule, and how it impacts your daily life.
Fenn is part of a several research projects investigating false memory and sleep. MSU has a Sleep and Learning Lab in which people can help partake in the research of psychological functions of sleep.
“Most people tend to sleep too little during the week, and then make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends,” Fenn said. “Typically, we can not change our wake time but we can be more vigilant about going to bed early enough to allow for 7 or 8 hours of sleep.”
- Maximize comfort: Ensure that the mattress, pillows and your clothes do not put any undue stress on the body.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Having a ‘detox period’ before sleep can improve REM and reduce restlessness throughout the night.
- Block out all light: Minimize the amount of light that enters the room or, if that is not possible, consider a face mask.
The Comprehensive Sleep Center in East Lansing offers home sleep apnea testing and other services to help better improve a good nights rest.
Limit your smartphone use and screen time
According to JAMA Pediatrics, screen time has doubled for adolescents since the early start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working remotely has also forced many adults to stay in front of a screen for hours at a time. Being on social media for extended periods of time can also cause users to dissociate themselves from others and become more isolated.
To help limit screen time, Apple and Android have implemented features that allows users to limit how much time they are on their smartphones. Another simple way is to create phone-free zones in your house. Putting the laptop in another room, or placing a device out of direct eyesight is another effective tool in limiting your time on your smartphone or other screens.
Find yourself some animal therapy
Research suggests spending time with animals helps reduce anxiety—even more so than many other recreational activities. A pet offers a great escape, but not everyone has the time to care for one.
Here are just a few of the places around Greater Lansing where you can interact with animals even if you don’t have time for a pet of your own:
Veronica Bolanos is a news assistant at the Lansing State Journal. Contact her at VBolanos@lsj.com or 517.267.0460. Follow her on Twitter @BVeronica19.