faith in action

The change of seasons and mental health.

Jesse St. Clair offers a reflection that reminds us of the holy task of taking care of ourselves and invites us to think about mental health and wholeness.  

This time of year is challenging for many who struggle with seasonal depression –  a struggle I know all too well. It’s difficult to keep my brain going when we have fewer daylight hours as each week progresses. My brain wants to hibernate, but that’s simply not an option.

I had a doctor who described how what we call Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) was a relatively normal phenomenon in the “olden days.” Before electricity, most folks went to bed at sundown because there just weren’t enough resources to keep the oil burning all night long. This number of hours spent sleeping varied over the course of the year as the days changed in length; rising with the dawn and sleeping with the sunset didn’t look the same all year long. With the invention of electricity, folks were able to keep longer hours and most bodies adapted to this change. Somehow, my brain seems to think that it’s back in the olden days…

Thanks to ever increasing medical knowledge and technology, there are lights that simulate the brightness of the sun. These lights help keep my brain going during the winter and enable me to better focus on cloudy days.

On down days, I can call on loved ones and talk. On really down days, others reach out to me and provide care and support. This is a good time of year to check on loved ones who have struggled with their mental health in the past. This is also a good time of year to check in on others who seem to have it all together but may be struggling internally.

It’s incredibly difficult to reach out and help or be helped. It is also incredibly important. As we think about what it means to be a church that promotes life and life abundantly to all people, let us remember to “bear one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2). Let us lift one another up and care with each other as we seek peace and joy in our God.

For more information on mental health and wholeness, check out Church and Society’s webpage on Mental Health.