Spring is in the air, nature comes back to life, birds are chirping. Everyone should be full of joy and happiness faced with this renewal of life and the promise of a new beginning.
Should. This word is something that nags on many. As it turns out, a sizable portion of the population is actually experiencing springtime blues ranging from minor sadness to full-blown depression.
How to cope with this phenomenon? I want to suggest a 30-day self-care challenge to banish the springtime blues.
- Is Springtime Blues a Thing?
- What’s to Blame for Reverse SAD?
- How Self-Care Can Help Beat the Springtime Blues
- Why 30-Day Self-Care Challenge?
- 30-Day Self-Care Challenge
- 1. Get to Bed One Hour Earlier
- 2. Spend 5 Minutes Deep Breathing
- 3. Take a Long Bath
- 4. Go for a Hike (or a Walk)
- 5. Find a New Exercise Routine
- 6. Put on a Face Mask (Not the Cloth or Surgical Type)
- 7. Get a Haircut
- 8. Enjoy a Spa Night at Home
- 9. Invite a Friend to a Tea Party
- 10. Start a Journal
- 11. Take a Yoga Class
- 12. Make a Homemade Body Scrub or Other DIY
- 13. Get a Massage
- 14. Spend Time in Nature
- 15. Visit a Local Farmers Market
- 16. Cook a Nourishing Meal
- 17. Take a Full-Day-Break from Social Media
- 18. Find Water to Look at or Walk on the Waterfront
- 19. Play with Your Pet
- 20. Rock Out to Some Music
- 21. Make Your Showers More Invigorating
- 22. Enjoy a Bit of Sunshine on Your Face and Body
- 23. Start Practicing Gratitude
- 24. Turn Off Electronics and Read a Book
- 25. Stay Away from the News for a Full Day
- 26. Take a Relaxing Nap
- 27. Give Your Feet Some Love
- 28. Enjoy a Make-Up Free Day
- 29. Write a Letter
- 30. Try Meditating
Is Springtime Blues a Thing?
When we think of seasonal depression, we rarely think of spring or summer. How could anyone feel blue when the sun is out, the sky is bright, and everything around is greening up?
And yet, studies show that anxiety and depression are at high points in April.
Even for those who don’t have depression, the arrival of spring may sometimes bring a mild, passing case of the blues.Psychology Today
Additionally, among those who are seriously depressed, suicide rates rise as soon as spring arrives. This peak has been well documented in many countries across the globe.
Many people, even those without depression, might feel a bit weird during this seasonal change from colder months to the warmth of spring. All of a sudden, there are more chances to spend time outdoors or to socialize more. And while for some it might be energizing, for others it might bring about anxiety.
Some others might feel sad or beat themselves up over not accomplishing goals that they set out for themselves in the New Years’ Resolutions. This can lead to self-doubt, negative thoughts, and anxiety.
Scientists describe this phenomenon as Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We tend to associate SAD with darker winter months and cold weather, but apparently, more and more people experience depression and anxiety just as winter ends and spring arrives around March and April.
Spring blues are often described as reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). About 10% of the population (depending on the geographic region) experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, and a fraction of that population are cases of reverse SAD.Lifespan.org
What’s to Blame for Reverse SAD?
Weather change might be one of the reasons.
Even though most of us find cold weather more depressing than warmer months, we still might be enjoying the cozy times at home, sitting by a fireplace, reading, watching movies, or playing games with the family.
Once winter ends, it seems more difficult to find that comfortable and protecting hygge feeling.
Social pressure is definitely another reason to get the blues. The expectation to be happy, to get outdoors, to be more active rises with rising temperatures.
Most people enjoy the warm weather and bright day, so those who do not might feel out of touch and out of place. Everybody around you seems excited and ready for some outdoor fun, and you feel like the only one having a bad time.
This adds to anxiety and feeling isolated from the community.
This one is more of a somatic issue but can still wreak havoc on your mental state.
Seasonal allergies or hey fever affect millions of people around the globe. With all that sneezing, coughing, runny noses and eyes, no wonder some of us feel out of step.
It’s not really that much fun outdoors if the very act of being there makes your symptoms so much worse.
How Self-Care Can Help Beat the Springtime Blues
Self-care is any intentional activity undertaken to improve your mental, emotional, and physical health. It includes activities that bring you joy and fun. They should never be forced or dictated by fashion or someone else’s ideas of what’s good for you.
Self-care is not selfish. The idea behind self-care is that you take care of your needs to that you can be in the best shape and form to take care of and support others like your family and friends
Why 30-Day Self-Care Challenge?
If you develop a consistent self-care routine, you are taking your physical, mental, and emotional health into your hands. It is a powerful way to feel empowered about catering to your needs.
Once you invest in all aspects of your health, you are stronger and able to care for other things and people that need you.
In order to make self-care work best, you need to work on it consistently.
This is where this day self-care challenge comes in. Each day, you will add one act of self-care to your routine. Some of them you will find more pleasurable or helpful, others maybe not so much.
By the end of the 30-day period, you will have found several things to stick to and do regularly. This is how a consistent self-care routine can be created and sustained.
30-Day Self-Care Challenge
1. Get to Bed One Hour Earlier
2. Spend 5 Minutes Deep Breathing
We don’t realize how shallow we breathe on regular basis. Spend several minutes sitting quietly and breathing deeply. Breathe in to the count of five, hold for 2 counts, breath out to the count of 5. Repeat several times. Make it a daily habit.
3. Take a Long Bath
Baths are not only relaxing but also so good for you. Add a cup full of Epsom salts and some rose petals into the bathwater. Light a candle or two. Just lie there for a few minutes, enjoying the warm water caressing your body. Peace of mind guaranteed.
4. Go for a Hike (or a Walk)
Physical activity is so great on many levels: it makes you energized, it improves your digestion, it helps you lose or maintain weight, it raises the feel-good hormones. Additionally, walking outdoors will make you get a dose of Vitamin D, which also boosts serotonin levels that have been depleted after the long winter months with weaker sunlight.
5. Find a New Exercise Routine
Exercise is not only great for your physical health, but also for your mood. Find a form of physical activity that is not like a chore to you. Only then will you be able to enjoy it and stick with it. It can be a solo activity like dancing, cycling, or jogging. It can be a competitive activity like tennis or team sports, or just playing with your kids in the backyard. Anything that gets your heart beating faster, will help you lift your mood as well.
6. Put on a Face Mask (Not the Cloth or Surgical Type)
I love face masks. They are my favorite self-care activity by far. You can get a ready-made one or you can make one from things in your fridge or pantry. Mix it up, put it on, kick back and relax for 15-20 minutes. It’s not only great for your skin but will also elevate your mood for sure.
7. Get a Haircut
As winter recedes, we stop wearing hats and other coverings. We might feel dull and lifeless and not so pretty after spending months bundled up and indoors. Easy fix: get a new haircut! You’ll feel gorgeous and rejuvenated, and you might start enjoying the new season so much more.
8. Enjoy a Spa Night at Home
Once you tasted the joy of regular face masks, you can go a step further and do an entire spa treatment at home. Scrubbing, steaming, bathing, and masking are so much fun. Do it alone or invite a bestie for double fun! Include some Champagne too!
9. Invite a Friend to a Tea Party
Not ready to socialize with a crowd? Start small. Invite a friend to a tea party. Prepare mini sandwiches and scones. Lay them out prettily. Prepare one or two types of tea, enjoy and chat away.
10. Start a Journal
Mental and creative stimulation is important to keep an active mind and stay present. Writing a journal is a good step toward such creative stimulation. You don’t have to write very much or write especially beautifully, but it feels amazing to put your thoughts and feelings into words on paper.
11. Take a Yoga Class
Yoga can do wonders for your sense of well-being. It is grounding, it is energizing, it sets you right for the day or it prepares you for a restful sleep. Embark on a 30-day- yoga challenge and you won’t regret it.
Since we entered the zoom era, there are countless online classes for fitness, meditation, and yoga. I’ve taken a few yoga classes and they are really top-notch, with first-class instructors and for people at multiple levels, from total beginners to experience yogis. Take advantage of these and see what you like.
In case you need more convincing to take up a yoga class, check out these inspirational quotes on yoga life.
12. Make a Homemade Body Scrub or Other DIY
Even if you’ve never dabbled in DIY, making a handmade body scrub is so easy and fun to do, it can bring joy to anyone. Open your pantry, get the ingredients, mix up and apply.
13. Get a Massage
I have not yet, in my entire life, gotten a massage that did not make me feel relaxed and invigorated at the same time. Getting your body massaged by an experienced masseur is an immediate serotonin boost. It will make Tou happy, guaranteed.
14. Spend Time in Nature
There is something about the outdoors that makes us feel better. It might be just the fresh air or the change of scenery. Or, maybe, it is that we are subconsciously feeling at one with the Earth, with our origins. Either way, step outside, take a walk in a forest or sit looking out to the beautiful seaside vista in the distance. Your mood will be elevated.
15. Visit a Local Farmers Market
I love farmer markets for two reasons. One is access to good food. The other is the ability to chat with the farmers, ask them about their farming practices, getting advice about my own garden. If you have one nearby, go ahead, walk a bit, strike a conversation, buy some flowers and local produce and enjoy this time in the community.
16. Cook a Nourishing Meal
Now that you have all this produce in the house, give your body the boost it needs by replacing the sweet and fatty winter foods with healthier springtime alternatives. All these fresh veggies and fruit with the minerals and vitamins that we might have been lacking in the winter are guaranteed to help our bodies find that balance during the seasonal change.
17. Take a Full-Day-Break from Social Media
Since I blog, I’m on social media quite a bit, but I try to make it a point of order to stay away from it on Sundays, and, if possible, one other day during the week. I noticed that I am less anxious and less irritable on these off days. I’m sure it can do wonders for anyone to take a break.
18. Find Water to Look at or Walk on the Waterfront
This one is a bit more specific than being in nature. Looking at water, hearing its sounds, and being near it is probably one of the most relaxing activities one can partake in. If you are lucky enough to live near water, take a stroll along that river or around that lake. Walk on that beach (barefoot is best) or sit and enjoy the look and sound of the crashing waves.
19. Play with Your Pet
As a pet owner, I am convinced that our furry friends are here to boost our mental state. No matter how down I might be, it warms my heart when my cat comes up to curl near me. If you are dealing with the springtime blues, play with your pet to get invigorated and simply happier.
20. Rock Out to Some Music
I have music playing in the house for many activities. Cooking, cleaning, and gardening are always accompanied by the sound of music. If you need a mood boost, play some favorite tunes and dance a bit. Solo or with a partner, dance is a great mood-elevating activity. Good exercise too!
21. Make Your Showers More Invigorating
If you need to put a spring in your step, nothing works better than an invigorating morning shower. Put some fresh eucalyptus branches in your shower and enjoy that amazing aroma that will lift you up and make your breathing so much easier. If you can’t access fresh branches, use a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil on the bottom of the shower.
22. Enjoy a Bit of Sunshine on Your Face and Body
We are all so afraid of skin cancer and rightfully so. However, wearing sunscreen 24-7 made Americans severely depleted in Vitamin D. Getting a few (15-20) minutes of early morning- or late-afternoon sun on your unprotected skin will do you good and will up your mood for sure.
23. Start Practicing Gratitude
If you didn’t start yet, start practicing gratitude. This is such a game-changer. I know, especially during cancer, writing a gratitude journal helped me through many hard times. It elevates the spirit, it makes one appreciate the things that go unnoticed otherwise, and it brings back joy into the life that might otherwise feel joyless and dull.
24. Turn Off Electronics and Read a Book
This genie is not going back in the bottle. We are dependent on electronics and they are here to stay. But, taking a break from them for a while can be so good for us. First of all, the blue light that electronic screens emit is harmful and can lead to insomnia and mood disorders. Secondly, we often become prisoners of that black hole of offerings of the internet and television. Turn it off and read a book instead. It’s more active, more stimulating to the mind, and more relaxing.
25. Stay Away from the News for a Full Day
Go one step further and stay away from the news for an entire day. Nothing bad will happen, the world will still be doing whatever it’s doing. But your mind will get a respite from the sensationalist, polarizing, negativity-prioritizing cycle of “news” that are more often than not just regurgitated opinions of wannabe experts.
26. Take a Relaxing Nap
Don’t be ashamed of napping. A short nap can invigorate you, lift your mood, and make you more productive than two or five cups of coffee would.
27. Give Your Feet Some Love
After the winter months, our skin is generally drier than in the summer. It’s probably safe to say that our feet might be even drier than the rest of our bodies. That is at least my situation. Give your feet some love. Whip up or get a good foot balm or body butter and massage it into the feet. A little foot-pampering will make not only the feet feel better but it will also make you happier.
28. Enjoy a Make-Up Free Day
There is so much attention on beauty and we women often chase these unrealistic ideals of beauty. Make-up is almost expected at the workplace. Without makeup, many feel not ready to meet the day’s challenges. But, putting on the make-up day in and day out is also a pain in the behind, and unless you’re are using very clean products, not optimal for the skin’s health. So, give yourself a break and enjoy a day or the entire weekend make up free. Let that skin breathe and give it a little sunshine.
29. Write a Letter
The beautiful art of letter writing is dying out and I find it to be such a shame! How will we ever know what people were thinking about, living through, and interacting with others without the light shed by letters preserved over so many years in the past?
Swim against that current and take up letter writing again. And then get a response letter. Just imagine the joy of finding an actual, hand-written letter in the mailbox full of junk mail and local advertisers.
30. Try Meditating
The best part of meditation is that it teaches you to live in the present. Even if it’s not something that happens every day, meditation can help you reconnect with yourself and find your inner flow. It’s not easy but once you get through a few sessions of guided meditation, you’ll be able to get the benefits of even a few minutes of meditation.
I hope you’ll find something in this 30-day self-care challenge that can banish that springtime blues. Hopefully, a few of these practices will stay with you and can become part of your new self-care routine. Remember, self-care is not selfish. Self-care is health care. Cheers!