Reflections on World Mental Health Day

It’s in October that you begin to feel the change in seasons. It’s now when we think through our summer to winter closet swap strategy. I hate to see summer go and you can bet I’ll be wearing my sandals until the snow flies! 

In autumn our thoughts turn to pumpkin spice lattes, Hallowe’en and the coming of winter. Autumn heralds the darkest part of the year. It’s also in October when you may begin to feel the effects of seasonal change. Our biological clocks will be off as daylight savings time begins. The reduction in sunlight can lead to decreased levels of serotonin – and that affects our mood, appetite and our sleep. The lack of light can increase melatonin and that can make you feel sleepy, even depressed. Ah, autumn! It’s no wonder October is when we observe Mental Health Awareness Day. 

And as our thoughts turn to autumn don’t, not even for a moment, discount how the pandemic brought and continues to bring changes to our lives. I don’t think we collectively give ourselves nearly enough credit for what we’ve accomplished, endured and managed through – and all the shifts, grief and sacrifice those changes brought. Last spring Adam Grant named the malaise we were feeling perfectly in an article he published in The New York Times. He called it languishing. It wasn’t depression so much as a maddening inertness. This has truly been a long haul and we may never return to normal, or “before time” and who even remembers what that was like? But I digress. 

As I prepare for Autumn and the dread of winter I am making my mental health a focus and a priority. And if that’s what I need, then by golly, I assume it’s something we all need. For the team at Clarity, we can count ourselves lucky to work at a company that truly cares about our whole selves. A company that knows we’re better when we feel better. A place that offers us the freedom of flexible schedules, unlimited time off and a culture that supports each of us where we are and what we need in the moment. 

To keep my focus and to support and steel my mental health against the inevitability of these impending winter doldrums I’ve done some very specific planning. I’m on a cable news diet, for one. Nature is a cure-all and my daily walks are as important to me as getting proper sleep. I’ve forsaken the habit of screen time when I’m off work and traded it in for spending time with my friends and family. On old-fashioned telephone conversations. On adding an extra hour of sleep. On diving into a new book and finally reading through that enormous heap of magazines on my coffee table. Our mental health is in our control. What are some things you can do to support yours? 

While we will soon set our clocks back an hour, we each have the ability to set ourselves forward with some thoughtful self care. One thing I encourage everyone at Clarity to do is to make plans now to utilize some of that unlimited time off. I also encourage finding ways to flex work time to take better care of themselves and make the most of this beautiful season. Then make it a habit, because this seasonality thing we’re feeling now?… It happens four times a year. My wish for all is to develop your own arsenal of tools that can enable you to blissfully march into the hopefulness of spring.

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