Mental health and mental health awareness are especially important in 2020. Situational depression has spiked significantly with the coronavirus pandemic and the election dominating the year. For me and countless others, heading into the fall and winter months brings on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In simple terms, it's a severe case of the winter blues. And I absolutely LOVE fall, so it's a tricky time of year for my mental health.

Self put together a list of 5 things you can do to help you through this time (and you don't have to be medically/clinically depressed to utilize these tips):

1.  Make a plan, way ahead of when you'll actually need it.  Thinking about things in advance and planning for setbacks and hurdles that could come up will help you cope if or when things DO go bad.

2.  Look at habits that helped you in the spring.  Even if the pandemic gets worse this winter, you'll have a better idea of what to expect this time.  So think about all the things that helped you feel normal over the last few months, and do those things as needed.

3.  Talk about your concerns with friends and family.  Remember, you don't have to process everything you're feeling alone.  And talking about things with your friends and family could let you know that THEY'RE having similar thoughts.

4.  Get professional support if you need it.  Whether you're dealing with loneliness, anxiety, depression, anger, or just bad sleep from constantly thinking about the terrible state of things, it wouldn't hurt to connect with a mental health professional.

5.  Remember to enjoy the present too.  Planning is good, but don't get SO focused on the upcoming winter that you miss out on the fall.  Ultimately, nobody can predict what the next few weeks and months will bring.

I'm going to be vulnerable here and admit I've been having a rough go of it the last couple of weeks. Depression sleeping on the weekends and getting virtually no sleep during the week because of anxious thoughts and physical aching pain stemming from stress. I feel comfortable sharing that because I've talked to some family about this and feel very supported. If you're feeling similarly, reach out. We are all in this crazy life together.