It’s officially Springtime; so you know what that means! Out with the old and in with the new! Spring represents new beginnings and rebirth, as it is marked by flowers blooming, crops sprouting, animals returning from hibernation, and the cold winter climate dwindling away. Change is not only evident however within our agriculture, weather, and wildlife but also in our own attitudes and motivation. Research examining the impact of seasonal changes on individuals’ psychological well-being indicates that individuals are more likely to experience symptoms congruent with depression (i.e., sadness, feelings of loneliness, lack of motivation, increased irritability, etc.) during the winter and alternatively elevated mood and an increase in motivation during the spring.
It is theorized these differences are due to the changes in weather and time between seasons. With Spring typically bringing in warmer temperatures and longer days due to daylight savings, individuals have more exposure to sunlight. Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, (also known as the “feel good” chemical), which enables us to feel happier and calmer. In addition, sun exposure permits individuals to gain access to Vitamin D, a nutrient critical in carrying out various bodily functions (e.g., assists the body in absorbing nutrients, helps foster bone growth, etc.) and enhancing our mood.
So, what does this mean for us now that Spring is here? Bye bye winter blues! It is time to take advantage of Spring! Shed the things that no longer serve you and implement new practices into your life that are in line with your values/life worth living goals. To assist in making this big step, you can always use your skills.
Accumulating Positives and Values
To get started, it may be helpful to review the accumulating positives and values skill. Through this skill, you will be able to identify your values, short-term and long-term goals and outline action steps to take towards them. This process ultimately creates your roadmap for pursing your milestones.
The building mastery skill can also aid in the pursuit of your goals as it fosters confidence and competence. In practicing building mastery, you will challenge yourself to reach new heights by engaging in meaningful and rigorous activities. By stepping into unchartered territory, you are more likely to have a greater sense of accomplishment, positive self-concept, higher self-esteem, and an overall greater level of happiness throughout the process.
Another beneficial skill you can use is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a core component of DBT and is applicable to every aspect of everyday life. Mindfulness involves increasing present moment awareness through observing/ being cognizant of what you are experiencing within yourself and what is occurring within your environment.
It can oftentimes be difficult to ground ourselves in the present because distressing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors towards events that occurred in the past arise or we are overwhelmed with worries pertaining to the future. As a result, we are not able to truly enjoy pleasant experiences and be in tune with the present. Increasing your present moment awareness will allow you to focus on the present and hence enjoy the moment. A few mindfulness practices that can be used are listed below. (To gain further information about each skill, click their respected link.)
Using these skills and the benefits of the Springtime, go forth and work towards your life worth living goals. If you would like help during this process, I implore you to reach out to a therapist near you.
About the Author
Destyn Jones (she/her), M.A., is a fourth-year clinical psychology doctoral student at Xavier University who is pursuing her interest in practicing Dialectical Behavior Therapy at CCDBT. Destyn conceptualizes the therapeutic experience as a collaborative process, where authenticity, cultural humility, and understanding are needed to help individuals achieve their goals. Click here to learn more about Destyn and her therapeutic approach.
Cleveland Clinic. (2022.). Serotonin: What is it, Function & Levels. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22572-serotonin#:~:text=Serotonin%20is%20a%20chemical%20that,blood%20clotting%20and%20sexual%20desire.
Keller, M. C., Fredrickson, B. L., Ybarra, O., Côté, S., Johnson, K., Mikels, J., Conway, A., & Wager, T. (2005). A warm heart and a clear head. Psychological Science, 16(9), 724–731. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01602.x
Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT® skills training manual (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.
Nall, R. (2019, April 1). What are the benefits of sunlight? Healthline. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight
Young, J. (2017). 5 ways the change of seasons might affect your mental health. Psychology Today. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201710/5-ways-the-change-seasons-might-affect-your