Do you know that feeling when you can’t wait for the summer to come faster, as if it were your salvation from all the stress and grim feelings gathered over the year? If you are familiar with that feeling, you should use your summer vacation to improve your mental health.
The stress accumulated over the short and dark days of winter is still having a negative impact on you. That is even worse if you suffer from depression, like 7.1 percent of Americans, or from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), like 6 percent of them.
Summer is the ideal time to improve your mental health. It’s the season when you have the most opportunities to relax, disconnect, and take care of yourself.
If you don’t know exactly how to do that, we have some ideas that might help. Here are some things you can try if you are looking to improve your mental health this summer.
Start a garden
Spending time outdoors, in the sun, can boost the production of serotonin and vitamin D, both of which have an important role in alleviating depression.
Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters, which affects mood, appetite, memory, learning, and social behavior. Low production of serotonin is associated with depression, anxiety, anger, and other issues.
Exposure to sunlight increases the release of serotonin, which is one of the reasons why people are more depressed during the winter than they are in the summer. It is also one of the reasons why spending time outdoors is highly encouraged by medical professionals.
Starting a veggie garden might be a great way to boost your serotonin levels and gain a sense of purpose and satisfaction. It also allows you to create and maintain a daily routine, while not taking too much of your time.
Most plants require only a few minutes of attention per day, in the mornings and evenings, which are also the best moments for you to be spending time in the sun.
In addition to serotonin and dopamine, physical activity also increases the release of endorphins, which boosts your mood.
Summer is the perfect time for outdoor sports. If you’re not the type who enjoys jogging in the morning, there are countless opportunities for other types of physical activity.
One of the most popular summer sports is swimming. Water exercise is great for everyone, including people with physical affections that have a hard time performing other types of physical activities. People with fibromyalgia, pregnant women, and older people, can all benefit greatly from a few hours at the pool.
The best part is that you don’t need to own a pool in order to be able to enjoy the benefits of this sport. Get a subscription at your local YMCA and make sure you attend a few times a week.
Learn how to meditate
Meditation can help you manage your negative emotions, such as fear or anger, which can lead to anxiety and depression. You can learn how to let go of the negative feelings and find your inner peace through meditation. It can also help you manage stress and stay calm throughout the toughest days.
If you never tried to meditate before, the summer vacation is the perfect time to start. There are many types of meditation: Tai chi, Qi gong, Yoga, transcendental, mindfulness, mantra, or guided meditation. Pick the one that you think would work best for you, or try several of them, until you find the right fit.
The easiest way to get started, however, is by using meditation apps or YouTube videos. All you need is a comfortable and quiet place, in any corner of your house or yard.
Like any other activity, meditation takes practice, and your skills will increase with time. Don’t give up if you won’t get it right the first time.
Improve your social life
The COVID-19 pandemic took a significant toll on everyone’s social life. This is the first summer we can actually enjoy without any restrictions, which makes it the ideal time to catch up with old friends and start socializing again.
Participating in social activities, even when it feels a bit stressful, can do wonders for your mental health. Meeting friends and family helps strengthen your relationships and makes you feel valued and supported.
Take advantage of the warm weather and invite your friends for a BBQ party, or organize a weekend getaway to reconnect. Getting out of your comfort zone (and out of the house) might pay off in the long run.
If you feel stressed, or close to burnout, the summer vacation is the ideal time to disconnect from everything. Even do a digital detox, especially if you work with tech devices all day long.
Ideally, you should leave the kids at their grandparents’ and go to a retreat for a week. Turn off your phone, leave your laptop at home, and just focus on yourself. Only do things that bring you pleasure, and avoid activities that could trigger your anxiety.
A single week of total disconnection can work like a reboot for your overloaded brain.
If leaving home for a whole week doesn’t work for you, at least try a short staycation. Take a day off, minimize the number of chores you do, order food instead of cooking, and avoid screen time. All you need for a relaxing evening is a nice book, a glass of wine, and some bath salts.
Leave guilt aside
Too many people, especially parents, feel a tremendous amount of guilt when they take time for themselves. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you should ignore your children and your family. Putting your mental health first will have positive outcomes for all of you!
So leave guilt aside and do the steps you need in order to improve your mental health this summer. Meet up with friends, have a summer vacation or at least a staycation, start a garden, spend time outdoors, exercise, and meditate.
Any amount of time you spend taking care of yourself is time well spent! Sending some good summer vibes your way 😎