For the last few months, like most of the world, my mental health has been a mess.
Panic attacks and anxiety flaring up for the first time in years.
Depression and hopelessness making it hard to accomplish anything.
It’s been on and off – every other day I’m okay, and feeling good about the things Son and I are working on.
And then like clockwork, the opposite days are depressed, hopeless, feeling like nothing we’re doing is worth anything and we’ll never get anywhere in life.
Son and I ping-pong back and forth – if I’m having a good day, he’ll be depressed, and if he’s having a good day, guess who’s sad and completely useless?
You know how they always say, hindsight is 20/20? Well. As soon as lockdown started back in March, I stopped leaving the house.
Like, at all.
We used to go for a walk almost daily. Now I easily go days, weeks, even a full month without stepping outside.
I THINK NOT.
For a while now, we’ve been talking about wanting to do some gardening on our YouTube channel, but other things kept getting in the way.
And finally a week ago, I decided it’s time to get our butts in gear.
Even if we aren’t gonna film, we’re gonna start doing just 15 minutes of gardening every day.
Weeding, cleaning up, other random maintenance stuff… there’s a lot to do that doesn’t even have anything to do with the stuff we want to film.
Plus, I’d been having a bunch of anxious insomnia nights, and getting sunlight is supposed to help you sleep better, right?
So I started making it a rule.
No matter what, first thing when we wake up, we’re going outside. Even if it’s only for a quick bit of weeding, every little bit helps maintain the yard.
And we’ve stuck to it.
We’ve thrown away fallen palm fronds
(Side note: do not ever get palm trees for your garden, they are a HUGE pain in the ass.)
We’ve cleaned off some patio furniture.
We’ve reprimed the patio furniture.
We’ve made homemade wasp traps that 100% failed at catching anything aside from a wayward moth.
I’ve actually started getting a tan for the first time in YEARS.
And guess what.
I haven’t had a depressed day since.
Which isn’t to say everything is perfect.
But our down days aren’t nearly as down as they were before.
I’ve been sleeping great.
I’m significantly happier.
My body’s sore as can be but still feeling better than it has in a while.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to say “go off your meds, just go outside and it’ll solve all your problems!”
I’m a huge proponent of having lots of tools in your mental health toolbox. Exercise, medications, eating right, therapy, meditation… not every tool is right for every situation, but getting outside is just one more tool that you can use as appropriate.
But there’s a big reason why Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is such a common problem in regions with significantly shorter days in the winter.
Sunlight is important to our health.
So slather on some sunscreen (’cause skin cancer doesn’t help anybody), and go do some gardening, take a (masked) walk, even just sit out on your porch or balcony or by an open window and read a good book.
Make it a very important date to get some sunlight every day.