Summer can be a challenging
I know that summer can be a challenging time for many individuals who may be struggling with their mental health or who may be wanting to change aspects of their mental health. Whether it’s seasonal affective disorder (SAD), anxiety, or depression, the change of season and warmer temperatures can exacerbate symptoms and make it difficult to cope. However, knowing some ways to lighten the load and navigate this summer with more ease than you thought possible may be just what is needed to help to make this summer more enjoyable.
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Firstly, staying active – regular activity has been shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and taking your workouts outside during the summer months is an added bonus. Whether it’s a daily walk, a swim at the pool, or a hike in nature, being active in fresh air and sunshine can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health. I’m a big proponent that being active isn’t the end all-be all but incorporating it into your life can make a dent and be a part of a great foundation for other skills and changes for your mental health.
Another important one is to practice good sleep hygiene. Although it may be tempting to stay up late and sleep in during the summer months, maintaining a regular sleep schedule can help regulate mood and energy levels. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and try to create a relaxing bedtime routine that helps you wind down and prepare for sleep.
It’s also crucial to stay cool and hydrated during the summertime. High temperatures can intensify symptoms of anxiety and depression, so drinking plenty of water, wearing lightweight clothing, and staying indoors during the hottest parts of the day, if possible, may bring unexpected, positive results on the mental health front.
Creating or keeping a routine is also essential during the summer. Although vacations and time off can be fun, too much disruption to your regular schedule can make it close to impossible to maintain stability and routine. Aiming to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day and trying to schedule in activities and tasks to keep yourself busy and engaged while simultaneously not going overboard and over-scheduling yourself can support the creation of a helpful routine.
Along with your vacations and disruptions in schedule, it’s highly likely that the people in your support system may also have different scheduling for the summer which may make it hard to connect as regularly as you do in the other seasons. Prioritizing those connections with supportive friends and family members will help with keeping a routine and also help to stave off possible loneliness and isolation.
Manage your expectations
With swift and constant access to be able to compare your summer experience with other’s via social media, it is vital to manage your expectations of having the “perfect” summer. Those unrealistic expectations can be overwhelming. Remember to prioritize self-compassion for your own limits and your self-care and keep a realistic perspective of what is possible to accomplish during the summer. It’s okay to say no to social activities or take a break if you need it.
Each person is unique
Everyone is different and summertime may hit each person in unique and unexpected ways. Being mindful of your own needs and speaking up – whether internally or externally – for what you need may be the starting point you need to have a summer that is invigorating and truly refreshing.