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March Madness

Written By: Grace Ashbrook

March Madness

In like a lion and out like a lamb! That’s the saying, right? MARCH MADNESS

March is supposed to be the glorious transition from the dark, cold winter to a sunny spring.  It is supposed to be synonymous with joy and hope.  In fact, many people look forward to spring with the expectation of it bringing happiness – and with that the resolution of their depressed mood.

Well, it turns out all those April showers bring more than flowers.  Spring is also responsible for bringing an abundance of mental health symptoms! Over the last several years researchers have been exploring the connection between spring and the “springing up” of depressed mood, mania, and anxiety.  It appears there are two primary culprits of this unfortunate correlation.

Spring Fever

Or less dramatically, allergies. Allergies often leave sufferers feeling miserable. Many of you are familiar with mother nature’s connection to congestion, runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing.   Lesser known, however, is the clear connection between pollen count and depression.

This connection is believed to be related to our immune system’s chemical messengers known as cytokines. Cytokines are released when allergies attack and are responsible for inflammation. Studies have demonstrated that high levels of cytokines are linked to fatigue, appetite changes, and social/environmental isolation – strikingly like symptoms of depression.

Then, if that weren’t enough, illness interferes with our sleep schedule which further contributes to irritability and depressed mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

When most people think of Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) they envision the depression that often accompanies winter months. Surprisingly, SAD is much more complex and not limited to the winter.  Many SAD suffers (1 in 10) will feel better in the winter months and find their symptoms returning as the warm weather is reintroduced. This occurrence is often referred to as reverse SAD. Common symptoms of reverse SAD are difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor appetite and restlessness.

Additionally, as many people start to shed their seasonal moodiness others may continue to feel trapped in their sadness. Comparisons of self to others who exude happiness as the seasons change can worsen depression in those who do not find relief.

Whatever the reason may be, don’t be surprised if you are noticing an increase in mental health symptoms as the weather turns nice. Please remember you are not alone and help is readily available!

Happy Go Lucky

Written By: Grace Ashbrook

Happy go Lucky!

With St. Patty’s day just around the corner, there has been an abundance of 4 leaf clovers to remind us of the good ole’ “luck of the Irish.”  It got me thinking about luck and its connection to happiness – as we often see these two go hand in hand.Happy Go

Luck has an immense impact in our life. A few seconds of bad luck can change our perspective and negatively affect days, weeks or years of our lives. Similarly, good luck can result in lifelong success and happiness. Luck, as it seems, has a lot of power to change our lives.

The good news is (lucky us!) that according to Richard Wiseman’s book The Luck Factor; The Four Essential Principals, luck is related to the way we think and behave – meaning luck is something that can actually be learned!

Richard Wiseman introduces four principals that are essential for learning luck:

  1. Creating Chance Opportunities
    1. Lucky people tend to be extroverts who have increased the chance of being lucky by establishing a strong network
    2. Lucky people have many irons in the fire, or haven’t put all their eggs in one basket. Maximizing the chance they will be successful offers more opportunity to be “lucky”.
  2. Thinking Lucky
    1. Listen to your instincts! Your intuition is the result of subtle clues that your subconscious has put together. Following these hunches might lead you to creating a chance opportunity (meeting new people, applying for a new job, etc…)
  3. Feeling Lucky
    1. The expectation that you will be lucky often precedes success. Expectation of luck inspires a confident attitude that is often perceived by others as desirable and attractive.
  4. Denying Fate
    1. If you accept a failure as bad luck you will likely stop trying. If we look for the “bright side” we are less likely to see things as a failure and more of an opportunity to try something different and improve what we are doing. This again encourages us to create  more opportunity for luck.

So there you have it! You don’t have to be Irish to be lucky!