10 Ways to Boost Your Mental Health This Summer
by Gerry Waters, on Jul 21, 2021 8:30:53 AM
If ever there was a summer where we all need a mental health break, this is it! Hours in virtual classes and meetings, continual uncertainty, restricted social interaction and the countless losses of ceremonies, celebrations and most importantly, loved ones has taken a toll on everyone. So, at this half-way point in the summer, here are a few easy ideas to help ensure that we - and our children - are making the most of these lazier days to recharge and rejuvenate our mental health.
Set attainable goals
Enjoying your summer and finding time to relax is definitely the ultimate goal, but we all know what it feels like to make it to the end of August without having accomplished anything we wanted to do during the summer.
Making a list or set of goals you want to get done over the summer can help structure your free time without making you feel like you have to do everything—a mindset that can be taxing on your mental health. The key is to make sure your goals are attainable. You don’t need to read every single book on your reading list, nor do you have to get that beach body you’ve always wanted. Picking a few things you want to do over the summer, whether they’re people you want to build relationships with or habits you want to start, will give your summer a little direction while also giving you the room you need for some much needed rest.
This is by far the most important thing you can do. Good weather—especially if you live in cold or rainy areas—is not a year-long luxury. Don’t miss out on the warm sunny days by staying indoors. Not only will you lose the opportunity to feel rejuvenated with a breath of fresh air, you’ll also have terrible fear of missing out after you hear how your friends spend their day outside in beautiful weather.
Regardless of who you are or what you like to do, you can almost always find a way to do it outside. Have to work? Take your laptop out on the. Even if you’re busy, find time for a 15 minute walk. It’s sure to make you feel more upbeat than you were before stepping outdoors, making the rest of your work day that much more positive.
Cut down on screen time and social media
After so many virtual classes and meetings, do you really want to spend a beautiful summer day staring at your phone? Try to find some time where you can either turn your phone off completely or set it down in a different room and walk away from it. Of course, depending on your profession and responsibilities this may not be possible. In that case, try silencing all the notifications that aren’t urgent, like news and social media, and depending on your situation, emails. Giving yourself some time away from social media and screens will make you feel less overwhelmed and stressed about work related responsibilities.
Reconnect with others
Summer time often means more time. Life gets stressful and usually there are people who we want to catch up with but can’t because of busy schedules. Taking some time to meaningfully build your relationships or to rekindle ones that died out over the course of a busy year is a great way to improve your social life and, as a result, your mental health.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware and present in the current moment. Starting new habits like meditation, paying attention to what you are eating and taking moments to pause and observe the world around you can help reduce stress and ease anxiety. Implementing some mindfulness practices in your daily life can help you stay grounded and boost your mental health, making any experiences you have during the summer that much more enjoyable.
Go for a drive
Nothing feels more freeing than driving around aimlessly with the windows down on a warm summer night. Find a friend, create an upbeat summer playlist, and follow the road ahead. You don’t need to have a destination to find a reason to go for a drive. Think less about where you’re going and instead be in the moment, enjoying time singing along to some summer jams with your friends.
Start a garden
Starting a garden can be an ambitious project, but there’s no need to be apprehensive about it. If you have a green thumb, try getting out of your comfort zone by planting something new, like fruits and vegetables. Or, if you’re new, to the gardening game, consider buying some low maintenance house plants.. Either way, having a garden of some sort—regardless of the size—can be a great motivator to consistently get outdoors. In addition, watching your plants grow will not only make you feel a great sense of accomplishment, but can help create order out of your days and help you recognize the passage of time.
If you’re already someone who is physically active, make sure to maintain your exercise habits during the summer. While summertime may come with newfound time, the lack of structure that may occur might make it difficult for you to get yourself to the gym. However, don’t be afraid to change up your workout routine by finding alternative forms of exercise that are suitable for the outdoors. This will not only help you build other sills, like playing tennis for instance, it will also make exercising more exciting. If you don’t typically stay active during the year, the summer is a great time to start. Think about some outdoor activities that you would be interested in trying that would also get your heart pumping.
Start a hobby you’ve always wanted to try
You may have that thing that you’ve always wanted to try but have put off doing until later. Well, summertime is later! There’s no better way to relax than to do something you really enjoy. Plus, starting a new hobby will not only fill any spare hours you have during your summer but also make it that much more exciting.
So, at this half-way point through the summer, check-in on what you're spending your time doing and how you're feeling. What could you do more of? What is sapping your energy without much benefit to you or others? Keep prioritizing activities that build up your physical and mental health, and have fun!