For many people, the sunny days of summer conjure thoughts of trips to the beach, outdoor music festivals, barbecues, and baseball games. But for others, summer isn’t necessarily synonymous with fun. Many individuals struggle with mental health problems even during a season of vacations and happy hour slushies.
Mental health should be taken seriously. Depression and anxiety are serious matters that can significantly affect your personal and professional life. The misconception that symptoms are only at their worst during the winter is a dangerous one. If you suffer from mental health issues during the summer months, you need to address them as soon as possible.
While it’s true that seasonal depression is more common in the dark winter months, summers can be difficult for their own reasons. If you find structure comforting, the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” can be anxiety-inducing. And if you’re seeing streams of beach party pix on social media when you’ve got nothing planned, it’s easy to start feeling down.
Fortunately, if you’ve got a case of the summertime blues, there are remedies. Whether you seek professional treatment or lean into the more soul-soothing aspects of summer, greater peace of mind isn’t far away. Here are a few options for increasing your mental well-being this summer.
1. Get Treatment
First things first. Looking to boost a temporarily low mood is one thing; dealing with a mental health issue of long standing is another. If you’ve been experiencing feelings of anxiety or hopelessness for some time, logging more hammock hours isn’t going to solve the problem. Clinical anxiety and depression are serious mental health conditions, and you may require medication, talk therapy, or both to get relief.
The essential thing you need to realize is that seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness. There are people and organizations that understand how difficult mental health is to manage and can help meet your specific needs. By taking steps to address your mental health condition this summer, you’ll build a foundation of well-being to lean on for seasons to come.
2. Take Indoor Activities Outside
If your mental health needs are less serious, you may just need to get outside more. While studies consistently show that fresh air and sunlight do a lot to improve mental health, many people aren’t keen on outdoor adventure. If you’re among them, rest assured that you don’t have to go on a daily 10-mile hike to enjoy nature’s mental health benefits. You can simply spend some time in a lawn chair with a good book.
Reading is an indoor activity that can easily be moved outside, allowing you to soak up some vitamin D and fresh air. You’ll be surprised by how much better you’ll feel after spending time outdoors, even if it’s in a shaded area. And you don’t have to force yourself to read if you’d rather do something else. Check your email, play the guitar, or complete a puzzle on the porch. The point is getting yourself out of the house for a spell to enjoy the warm weather, regardless of the activity.
3. Take Up Yoga
Another activity that can be done outdoors — or inside if you prefer — is yoga. This exercise aims to focus your mind and body to strengthen your resolve and eliminate stress. The best part? With nothing more than a mat required, anyone can participate in yoga anywhere they’d like at any time.
Of course, you can always look into a yoga group or organized yoga class. This is a great option if you don’t know how to start or don’t want to try it on your own. Becoming a part of a community can help bolster your emotional strength. At the very least, you’ll have the opportunity to gain new friends who can support you.
4. Grow a Garden
The feeling you get from creating something with your own hands is unparalleled, and calling things forth from the earth is practically magical. If you want the dopamine rush that results from creating things from (almost) nothing, try your hand at gardening. You can plant flowers, vegetables, or even a fruit tree. You will feel great watching it grow, and this will give you something productive to pursue every day of the summer.
Don’t get the wrong idea: Gardening is hard work. However, it’s very fulfilling and rewarding work. How amazing is it to plant the tiniest seed and see it blossom into a green plant that bears food for your table? Imagine how satisfied you’ll feel as you sit to dinner knowing you grew the bounty on your plate.
5. Participate in Community Events
There are a lot of local events scheduled during the summer. Whether your tastes run to live music, canoe trips, arts festivals, or community gardening, chances are a local organization offers it. It will only take some light research to discover what sort of activities are being held. Not everything will be your cup of tea, but there are sure to be a handful of events that are worth looking into.
Social connection contributes mightily to mental health, and there are good people around you whom you simply haven’t met yet. Rubbing shoulders with the active members in your community can give you a boost of energy. You might make a new friend or discover an organization you want to join. Perhaps you’ll identify a volunteer opportunity that will improve your community and your sense of belonging at the same time.
When you’re feeling low, it can be hard to see that the world has a lot to offer you. That can be especially difficult during the summer, when it seems that everyone is enjoying life but you. By taking conscious steps to overcome your mental struggles this summer, you’ll start a new cycle of health and wellness moving forward.