Summer 2023 is right around the corner! The weather is starting to get warmer, the sun is beginning to shine brighter, and we are entering the time of year next month when millions of people will be out and about unlike any other time of the year. Summer is a time where many people can feel great especially after coming out of a dark and cold midwestern winter season. It’s a good time to spend time with family and friends without having to wear a big coat and winter boots. Here are a few things to consider to help you take care of your mental health and your overall wellbeing this summer!
Spending some time outdoors
Summer can be a beautiful time to let in all the sun that we weren’t getting during the darker seasons (those of us in the Midwest especially). If you can, try to make it a priority to go out 2-3 times a week for a short walk, meet up with a friend for outdoor lunch at a restaurant or café, or go for an outdoor swim somewhere. This is the time to do all the things we couldn’t do as much or at all during the colder months of the year.
Get your dose of Vitamin D
This is the perfect time of the year to go out to the park or head over to the beach with family or friends and take in the sights. This is also a good time to let the sun do its job (within reason of course, no sunburns wanted). Vitamin D is important as it can help us feel happier, reduce the risk of disease and high blood pressure. It is also good for our immune system and overall central nervous system. It helps to energize us, and we also tend to feel happier when we let the sun in at least a few times per week. Bring some sunblock but enjoy!
Take a vacation or staycation
We spend most of our year working, going to school, taking care of kids, bills and other responsibilities that we have on our plate. Sometimes it can be difficult to schedule time for oneself in the midst of being super busy most of the time. Consistently busy schedules throughout the year can be fulfilling in some ways but can also lead to the increase in burnout that millions of people have to contend with each year. We don’t always take the time to plan out time for ourselves or take a trip with our families, friends, or significant other. Taking a vacation is crucial and I believe necessary sometimes so you can focus on a new adventure, something exciting you’ve put off for a long time and prioritizing your self-care and wellness. Take a trip to a new location, state or out of the country and see some more of the world if possible. It is refreshing and will help your mental health in ways you might not realize. Even plan a staycation if you cannot afford a big vacation. Rent a hotel, order your favorite foods. You will thank yourself later that you did!
Working out and dieting
Maybe we didn’t hit the ground running with those new year goals we had to join a gym or start a healthier diet and have been wanting to get to a place to make that happen. There is no better time than the summer to work on our fitness/diet goals. We tend to have more energy during the summer months, and this could be the opportunity to start what you could not back in January or February. Consider ordering some gym equipment, getting a membership at a gym, or going for long walks, jogs or runs 2-3 times per week. Consider this the time to make those intentional changes you wanted to make in your diet and create a plan to facilitate that for yourself. Exercise is good for releasing endorphins, stimulating the production of dopamine and serotonin in our brains. These keep us feeling good, happy, and healthy! You can do it!
Spend time in nature
I can’t stress this enough. This ties into the first tip from earlier. Spending time in nature, the outdoors is crucial for our mental health. Many more people now than ever work from home and may not get out as much as they use to. Some people may be more introverted and don’t want to go out as much. Even if you are a homebody it is recommended to go out at least 2-3 times per week even if it is for a short walk and to let the sun and air hit your skin. This again has not only mental health benefits but medical health benefits as well. This can help reset your central nervous system especially if you are battling depression, chronic stress, anxiety, grief, trauma etc… It is something you won’t regret when you take the time to care for yourself. Let nature help!
This is not a one size fits all approach for everybody, but I believe these are a few key ingredients to creating better mental, emotional, physical, medical health habits for ourselves. Let’s take advantage of what the summer has to offer. And don’t forget, no matter what, to have fun!
By: Gianne Shah, MS, LPC, NCC, CCTP