Digging Into the Mental Health Toolkit

I’ve written about my dislike for wintertime before, but a new thought popped into my head as to why this time of year isn’t great for me. We know about seasonal affective disorder, shorter days and colder nights and all that, but there’s another big reason that I don’t love this time of year. I have several activities and hobbies that I do that relieve/help me manage my mental health challenges, and the winter is one of the most challenging times because it limits what I can do.

I never really realized this before, but it’s possible that one of the biggest reasons I don’t like winter is because I feel like I’m limited in how I tackle my anxiety and depression. But even though my mental health tool kit might be slightly smaller, there’s nothing a few modifications can’t fix.

I’ll be honest: winter limits some of my favorite activities and ways that I relieve my anxiety and depression. Running is my favorite form of physical exercise, and the extremely cold weather and early sunset make that difficult. The same can be said for most of my outdoor activities, which just doubles the homebody I already am.

Even though this happens every year, I tend to forget how cyclical this feeling is. I’m sure last winter I was having the same struggles when I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to relieve my stress or manage my mental health. What’s different this year, though, is that my awareness has driven me to action. Since I can’t do whatever I want, I have to make the best with what I’ve got.

For the first time, I’m planning and working hard to make the best of what I’m able to do to manage mental health challenges during the winter. I’m giving journaling another try, and taking time for more introspective inside activities that I say I’m too busy to do other times of the year, like writing and doing more puzzles.

I’m rarely deliberate about making the most of what I’ve got, because I’m so focused on what I don’t have. I forget that when it comes to my mental health, it’s more important to have what I need than to have what I want. I wish that wasn’t the case, but I’m reminded of that lesson almost daily.

I don’t usually like to tell people to make the most of what you have because it can sound simplistic, but mental health challenges don’t always give us a ton of options. When that happens, sometimes the best thing you can do is grit your teeth, put your head down, and dig back into your mental health toolkit to find what helps.

6 thoughts on “Digging Into the Mental Health Toolkit

  1. S.Z. Estavillo January 13, 2022 / 2:53 pm

    I completely relate to this as winter months can elongate nights and shorten the days. Many people experience worsening depression. I think the pandemic has also made us all feel more isolated. Many people are working remotely now and they no longer have live contact with people. I think it all contributes from our current events to the weather. People who don’t suffer from mental health issues do not understand just how hard it can be. But you’re correct, digging into our mental tool kit to see what helps can work wonders. Even if it is simple mind shift exercises or other things like calling/texting a friend, reading/listening to self-help books/pod casts. We must grit our teeth through it and find what works. Hope you feel better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nathan S. January 14, 2022 / 11:23 am

      I’m so glad you found this relatable! There are a lot of times I feel like I’m gritting my teeth to find something to do – it’s not always fun, but I have to constantly remind myself that I’m doing this for my mental health and wellness, and hope that day by day I get better at handling this. Thank you for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • S.Z. Estavillo January 14, 2022 / 12:55 pm

        Yes, it’s a matter of getting better at it each day or at least not caving in to the despair.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nathan S. January 14, 2022 / 4:29 pm

        You’re totally right, and both are positive steps toward wellness!

        Liked by 1 person

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