Seasonal Changes and Mental Health

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I’ve noticed a trend with some of my mental health symptoms. Why do I always experience depression when cold weather hits? A while back, I started researching why my symptoms of mental health worsen around a seasonal change. And to my surprise, many people experience this phenomena, it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD (the acronym is ironically fitting). Some symptoms include depression, loss of interest, low energy, problems with sleeping, feeling agitated, or difficulty concentrating. Many people experience symptoms associated to Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter months because the loss of sunlight during that time. But Seasonal Affective Disorder is not exclusive to winter time. It’s a pattern of symptoms that change with the seasons. Living in Michigan, we know that cold weather is just around the corner. To combat my mental health symptoms during the cold weather months, I have developed a couple of self-care techniques that I personally use whenever the weather changes. Hopefully you find them as helpful as I have.

When my winter blues start, the first thing I like to do is make a list of activities that help me feel better. For my list, I usually like to order my helpful activates to how difficult I find the task being vs. how much it helps me cope when times get hard. For example, I love painting and it helps me express my emotions. Although I truly enjoy painting, it can be so hard to find the motivation to paint when I am not feeling well. So I might put painting in the medium or hard section of my list of activities. On the other hand, I find a good cup of tea and a moment of peace and quiet to be helpful too, but that isn’t as hard for me to accomplish so I put that in the easy section of my list. The reason why I label how hard my coping activities are, is because it’s hard decide how to help myself when I am in think thick of being depressed or having anxiety.

The second thing I do to help myself during the season change is, try to remind myself of the good things about the change in weather. I typically start feeling more depressed in the fall going into winter. So I try to get excited about the things that happen during those seasons. Like in fall, I love the leaves changing colors, Halloween, bonfires, and scary movies. During the winter, I love Christmas, spending time around a fire with hot cocoa, and buying presents for my friends and family. I think it’s important to have something to look forward to. It’s a reminder that the season change might not be as bad as it can feel and to be grateful for new things to come.

Another way I fight off some of my symptoms is to remember that I have gone through a tough time before. I have also gone though many of hard seasonal changes and I have survived them. Although the change in season may still be hard, I have the confidence to say that I will overcome my negative experiences with seasonal changes because I have done it before! I also talk to my supports about this too. My supports help me remember that sometimes I just have to give myself the experience of not being okay. I have to allow my symptoms to pass on their own, because I know one day, I will start feeling better. 

I know that a sudden change in weather can often be daunting for many people who experience mental health symptoms, but there are some favors you can do for yourself to make it easier. You can build a list of activities you are able to do when you’re not feeling well, remind yourself of all the good that can come from change, and to remember that you’ve experienced these changes before and got through them. These are some of my best practices to make myself feel better about an upcoming seasonal change. What helps gets you through a difficult time? I would start thinking of this now as the cold weather will blow in before you know it.

 

 

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Journaling: A Step Closer To Knowing Yourself

Journaling

Journaling has a ton of benefits to coping with mental health challenges. Journaling is a coping skill that I personally have found myself turning back to time and time again in my mental health journey. Doodles, misspelled and smudged words are welcomed as it enhances the experience.

The reason I journal is because it relaxes me. Journaling permits me to release my emotions without fear of judgement. I let my emotions pour out onto the page – good or bad. Which is healing to give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling in the moment.  It’s a form of meditation because it allows you time to reflect on your day or things that you could be dealing with emotionally. Writing about something that I am struggling with allows me to slow down and take time to process what life can throw at you and deal with those feelings in a comfortable and safe way.

Journaling can help you feel more – you. Creative writing allows you to understand yourself. In my mental health journey, I have struggled with a sense of self. I would constantly ask myself “Who am I?” and “What do I want out of life?” While I realized these are some hefty questions to be asking myself, I didn’t even really know where to begin to answer questions like that. Through journaling, I discovered that I am constantly changing and so are the answers to those big questions. So it’s okay to not always have the answers right away and it takes time to learn about yourself, your needs, and the world around you.

 

 

I have found that being able to write down and reflect on my thoughts gives me confidence to speak my mind. A common obstacle for people struggling with mental health symptoms, myself included, is being able to voice our opinions. Journaling lets me practice speaking up because I can explore my opinions about something without feeling like I’m on stage. It just takes the pressure off having to immediately understand my thoughts on a particular subject or I can dig deeper as to why I do feel a certain way. I don’t just do this with big issues either. Sometimes I will just write about random things like music or books in order to feel comfortable about forming an opinion and expressing it. I am often surprised at what I discover about myself. Over time, I think it gets easier to express myself to others because it’s been practiced in my journaling.

If you have journaled before and found it difficult to get into, I suggest doing a bullet journal. A bullet journal is different from regular journaling because it can be just quick sentences or a way to organize your thoughts. When I bullet journal, I usually draw a little happy face or sad face depending on my mood for the day. Then I will just jot down short sentences about my mood or symptoms. I also write down things that may have affected my mood like the weather or how much sleep I got. It’s a tool to recognize my feelings and be able to track them. Sometimes I will share my journal with my doctors so they can better understand what is going on with me. If you have never journaled before, I suggest giving it a go. You will find how to make journaling work for you. For me, it’s the combination of free writing, drawing, and bullet journaling. Journaling is a custom way to express yourself, thoughts, emotions, and moods. It has helped me in my mental health journey and I believe it could help others experiencing mental health symptoms too.

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Talking About Mental Health with Your Supports

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A support system is group of people and organizations who positively impact your life. Support can come in a variety of ways. It could look like an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, a peer, friend, or even a pet. Research shows that having a positive and understanding system of support is an essential piece of recovery. Unfortunately, it is all too common for people to avoid talking about their mental health challenges with their loved ones.

It’s not easy to do. Many people are fearful to admit that they’re not feeling well or that something is “off.” This is often due to stigma. People may wonder if their friends and family will see them differently or judge them harshly for the challenges that they’re experiencing. Instead, they try to mask what is going on, causing isolation and making the individual feel even worse.

If you are having trouble talking about mental health with the people in your life, you may be wondering how you could possibly tell someone. This is completely understandable. How can you put how you’re feeling into words? How will this person respond? If this is the case, these tips might help you to feel more confident and prepared to have this conversation.

 

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Talking About Mental Health with Your Supports

Talking-About-Mental-Health-Featured

 

A support system is group of people and organizations who positively impact your life. Support can come in a variety of ways. It could look like an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, a peer, friend, or even a pet. Research shows that having a positive and understanding system of support is an essential piece of recovery. Unfortunately, it is all too common for people to avoid talking about their mental health challenges with their loved ones.

It’s not easy to do. Many people are fearful to admit that they’re not feeling well or that something is “off.” This is often due to stigma. People may wonder if their friends and family will see them differently or judge them harshly for the challenges that they’re experiencing. Instead, they try to mask what is going on, causing isolation and making the individual feel even worse.

If you are having trouble talking about mental health with the people in your life, you may be wondering how you could possibly tell someone. This is completely understandable. How can you put how you’re feeling into words? How will this person respond? If this is the case, these tips might help you to feel more confident and prepared to have this conversation.

 

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Putting Yourself First: Self-Care

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Self-care is about caring what happens to you. It means doing something that is creative, fun or good for you. In other words, purposefully making your needs a priority. Self-care may mean exercising and eating well to maintain physical fitness and good mental health. It can also mean spoiling yourself a bit—something as simple as indulging in a piece of your favorite candy or playing the guitar for an hour. Anything that helps you be you and stay you is considered self-care.

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Putting Yourself First: Self-Care

Self-Care-Featured-Image

Self-care is about caring what happens to you. It means doing something that is creative, fun or good for you. In other words, purposefully making your needs a priority. Self-care may mean exercising and eating well to maintain physical fitness and good mental health. It can also mean spoiling yourself a bit—something as simple as indulging in a piece of your favorite candy or playing the guitar for an hour. Anything that helps you be you and stay you is considered self-care.

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LifeWays Annual Celebration 2017

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Segue, Inc. is proud of all consumers and staff, and we are delighted to celebrate four very important people who have been recognized by LifeWays at their 2017 Annual Celebration last month.

 

 

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LifeWays Annual Celebration 2017

LifeWays-Annual-Celebration

Segue, Inc. is proud of all consumers and staff, and we are delighted to celebrate four very important people who have been recognized by LifeWays at their 2017 Annual Celebration last month.

 

 

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

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Mental Health Awareness Month was started in the United States in 1949 by the Mental Health America Organization to shine a light on the importance of mental health and wellness. Each year in the month of May, advocates and activists across the country participate in activities to increase awareness, educate the public, and give a voice to individuals who have mental health challenges.

Why is it so important to bring mental health to the forefront? 1 in 5 Americans experience mental illness and nearly 1 in every 25 individuals live with a serious mental illness in the United States. One of the most vital reasons we talk about mental health is because mental illnesses touch the lives of just about every single American – whether they themselves are experiencing mental health symptoms or they have loved ones who do.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month was started in the United States in 1949 by the Mental Health America Organization to shine a light on the importance of mental health and wellness. Each year in the month of May, advocates and activists across the country participate in activities to increase awareness, educate the public, and give a voice to individuals who have mental health challenges.

Why is it so important to bring mental health to the forefront? 1 in 5 Americans experience mental illness and nearly 1 in every 25 individuals live with a serious mental illness in the United States. One of the most vital reasons we talk about mental health is because mental illnesses touch the lives of just about every single American – whether they themselves are experiencing mental health symptoms or they have loved ones who do.

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How to Stop Stigma from Stopping You

How to Stop Stigma from Stopping You

Stigma is when a person is misunderstood, shamed or discriminated against due to things that are out of their control. This is something that many people with mental health challenges face on a day-to-day basis. For people with mental health challenges, sometimes stigma comes in the form of mocking and cruelty. Other times it is subtler: family and friends misunderstanding you, avoiding you, shaming you and blaming you for your challenges. Unfortunately, our society sees people with mental health challenges as strange, lazy, or even violent.

 

Because of all the negative beliefs surrounding mental illnesses, we begin to internalize those feelings – believing that they are true. We get frustrated, blame ourselves, or try to hide the issues that we face. This often takes an even bigger toll on our mental health. But there are things that you can do to change the way that you think of yourself and learn to speak up to those who lack understanding and awareness.

 

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How to Stop Stigma from Stopping You

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Stigma is when a person is misunderstood, shamed or discriminated against due to things that are out of their control. This is something that many people with mental health challenges face on a day-to-day basis. For people with mental health challenges, sometimes stigma comes in the form of mocking and cruelty. Other times it is subtler: family and friends misunderstanding you, avoiding you, shaming you and blaming you for your challenges. Unfortunately, our society sees people with mental health challenges as strange, lazy, or even violent.

 

Because of all the negative beliefs surrounding mental illnesses, we begin to internalize those feelings – believing that they are true. We get frustrated, blame ourselves, or try to hide the issues that we face. This often takes an even bigger toll on our mental health. But there are things that you can do to change the way that you think of yourself and learn to speak up to those who lack understanding and awareness.

 

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