Ah, spring. The snow has melted, flowers are blooming, and the color green takes over from gray. Everything seems great, right? The cold reality is that spring can be a tough time for those with mental illness. While we associate winter with cold, depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the transition into warmer weather and the stresses brought on by the end of the spring semester can be difficult for student mental health. Here are just a few reasons why spring can lead to trouble.
End of the Semester
The shift into spring means the end of the semester is coming. Classes intensify in the drive towards completions. Final projects and papers come due with final exams not far behind. This is a very stressful time for students. Late nights of research and cramming means little sleep. Late night pizza and other unhealthy food can tax the body even more. Couple this with the fear of getting bad grades and resultant parental reaction can be truly problematic.
But grades aren’t the only changes that come with the end of the semester. For grade school, middle school and high school students, the loss of daily interaction with friends can make them feel isolated. For students at college, many of them will leave their friends and support system behind to head to a home where they no longer feel they belong. All of this can put a great strain on student mental health.
Winter Allows for Seclusion, Spring Does Not
In winter, it is commonplace to stay inside and cocoon. For many, there is comfort in isolation and the freedom to remove oneself from difficult social engagement. Winter allows this without judgment from friends and colleagues. For some, spring brings the impetus to go outside and frolic with other people. But this is not the case for everyone. Withdrawal now seems problematic to members of one’s social circle. What had previously been the simple act of recharging is now seen as odd by friends who may feel slighted. The resultant stress and awkward social situations that arise do no favors to one’s mental health.
Body Weight Issues and Low Self-esteem
With the rising temperatures comes a change in wardrobe from coats and bulky sweaters to t-shirts, blouses and shorts. For many, the comfort of being able to cover up perceived flaws is taken away. Additionally, we tend to eat more in the winter from celebrations, to being stuck inside, to general boredom. It is commonplace to add a few pounds, which can really play upon one’s self-esteem. Weight gain and other blemishes whether real or imagined can quickly devastate one’s psyche.