Did you know that for some people dealing with depression or mental illness, it's often spring, not winter, that's the hardest time of year?

Why? It's complicated. It might be something about how sunlight affects our hormones. Or some connection to allergies and inflammation. Or it could also be cultural — spring comes with a lot of pressure to feel cheerful, and nothing makes you feel worse than being told to be happy when you just can't.

With that in mind, spring is basically the perfect time (other than all the time) to practice a little self-care.


Here are 12 springtime things that might inspire you if you (or your loved one) are feeling down as the season rolls in:

1. The rush of going over your budget in the garden section of Home Depot.

Image from Celeste Lindell/Flickr.

There's nothing like getting down and dirty with some potting soil. Even better, studies have shown that having plants in your home can improve productivity and mood!

2. Walking around in baseball gear two weeks before the first game of the season.

"Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd!" Image from Leon Halip/Getty Images.

One study from the University of Kansas suggested that being a sports fan could help buffer us from bouts of depression.

3. Napping is just more enjoyable when it's done in the sun. It's, like, a fact.

Mmmmmm. Image from Ewen Roberts/Flickr.

According to the CDC, a fourth of people are vitamin D deficient, which some studies link to depression and fatigue. So cuddle up and take in those rays (and maybe invest in some supplements if that's what you're into).

4. There's no better time to take your bikes out on the road!

Just be sure to wear a helmet! And dodge the potholes. Image from Nelson L/Flickr.

Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise can help get those endorphins pumping.

5. Hitting the park with all your friends (and everyone else on the planet, apparently)...

Image by David Orban/Flickr.

Pack a picnic lunch, a frisbee, or your favorite book, and just relax on a sprawling lawn together.

6. ...and then thinking of the perfect April Fool's Day pranks to play on each other!

Either this is a prank, or that child is about to destroy us all. Image from Lars Andersen/Wikimedia Commons.

...of course, then you'll spend the whole day worried they're about to do the same to you.

7. Sit outside with your dog or volunteer at a local shelter. Sometimes caring for a furry friend is the best kind of self-care.

Happy dogs who are covered in mud. A lot of mud. And who want to jump up on you right now.

Not to mention, hanging out with your best animal pal can help relieve anxiety and improve your mood.

8. In spring, people watching becomes 1,000% more entertaining!

Image from Haritz_Euskal Dantzari Taldea/Flickr.

Even if you're feeling down, sitting outside and watching buskers, performers, and strangers pass by on the street can sometimes put a smile on your face.

9. If you're near D.C., take some time to watch the cherry blossoms fall (and pretend you're in Japan)...

And then sweep up the two metric tons of cherry blossom petals off your front porch. Image from Nathan Wong/Flickr.

10. Or, if you're on the West Coast, enjoy the 1.5 months before California turns completely brown again...

Don't worry, it'll be back to "Mad Max: Fury Road" soon enough. Image from tdlucas5000/Flickr.

11. ... or, if you're in the South, go see the entire state of Texas turn blue.

Image from Earl McGehee/Flickr.

Any of these options are good — nature walks can help lower stress and improve mental well-being. Wherever you are, find a park or nature center and go for a long walk.

12. Spring brings beautiful flowers, bright sunlight, and warm weather, but one of the best things is how it can inspire us to take care of ourselves.

Image from Eneas de Troya/Flickr.

And if you're the one who's depressed, I know it's hard, but there's never been a better time to focus on yourself and what you need. Take each day as you can. Reach out to friends and doctors if you need to. Remember to treat yourself well.

Everyone deserves a happy spring.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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