10 ways to look after your mental health this summer

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-meditating-near-sea-5201527/ 

There is no doubt that summer is the most exciting season of the year, a great time to reconnect with people and enjoy that vacation you have been looking towards for months. However, summer can also be a period of great stress, and factors such as changes in daytime and sleep schedule, a tight social schedule, routine changes, and vacation-related schedule can play a trick on your mind and trigger SAD – or seasonal affective disorder.

That is why it is important to understand how to deal with high levels of stress, avoid depressive episodes, and look after your mental and physical well-being. 

Whether you have already started to feel the effects of summer on your mental health, or you are afraid your current lifestyle can throw your wellness off balance in the future, there is a lot that you can do to look after your emotional well-being. Start with the tips below – but don’t be afraid to talk to a specialized therapist if needed!

Take Up Meditation and Practice Breathing Techniques

Backed by a growing body of research, meditation is a great tool to help you relieve stress, improve self-awareness, understand environmental triggers, and learn how to manage your response to situations you can’t control. 

While you might still be skeptical about this age-old discipline, meditation does not have to take a lot of time out of your day or eat into your finances. Instead, opt to follow free guided meditations and breathing exercises you can find on free mobile apps or YouTube videos. And, you only need around 2-5 minutes a day to start seeing the effects of your new practice! 

Practice Mind-Body Activities Like Yoga and Tai Chi

Mind-body activities like yoga and Tai Chi are great disciplines to improve your balance, flexibility, and strength. What’s more, when practiced alongside meditation, these activities can help lower stress levels, inflammation, and blood pressure, thus boosting your overall wellbeing. 

Even more importantly, daily yoga practice can play an important role in helping you reconnect with your body, achieve mental clarity, and refocus your attention. 

Move Your Body for at Least 30 Minutes a Day

Moving your body each day, keeping up an active lifestyle, and exercising regularly are just some of the ways to have a healthy and happy summer. According to official guidelines, you should aim to exercise moderately for around 150 to 300 minutes a week, which equals 2.5-5 hours. Alternatively, you can dedicate yourself to intense physical activity for 75-150 minutes a week. 

Not a gym goer? There’s no need to worry! Many activities can be introduced in an effective workout routine. For example, you might consider walking, jogging, climbing, or playing team sports. 

Focus on Getting All the Nutrients Your Body Needs

If you have ever heard of the mind-body connection, you know that your diet plays a crucial role in maintaining both your mental and physical health. However, during the summer, you might have to deal with drastic changes to your routine and disrupted sleeping patterns, which can cause you to stray from a nutritious and balanced eating regime. 

However, once you become aware of the importance of refocusing your diet, you can quickly learn how to adjust what you eat to lower stress levels, reduce inflammation and pain, and boost your mood. 

Ideally, you should focus your meals on whole, seasonal, natural, and minimally processed foods. Looking for healthy ideas for your office lunch? Natural meal replacement shakes can help you keep up with your health goals without requiring you to spend hours cooking and prepping!

Boost Your Sleep Quality With a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Your sleep quality can significantly impact your emotional and mental well-being. A lack of sleep can cause your stress levels to skyrocket and can make you more irritable, aggressive, and unable to focus. In turn, this can affect all aspects of your life, including your level of productivity at work and the way you interact with those around you. 

Make sure to regain control over your mood and overall well-being by sleeping at least 7-9 hours a night. 

Having trouble rebalancing your internal clock? Try sleeping in a dark room to trigger melatonin production, set your alarm at the same time every day, and make your room a device-free zone. Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine, practicing yoga, reading a book, or taking a bath before bedtime can also help you relax and fall asleep faster. 

Fight the Feeling of Overwhelm by Introducing Journaling

The changes of schedule that often happen during the summer months, coupled with a tight social schedule and the stress related to planning a vacation, can cause you to feel overwhelmed. 

If you have been struggling with these issues, solutions such as journaling and keeping a diary can help. Simple daily entries and a tailored journal that can help you track your meals, expenses, and chores so that you can organize the week and make sure to have some time left to dedicate to hobbies and self-care. 

Unsure how to get started? Platforms such as Etsy can help you find a customized option for your needs. 

Dedicate Some Time to Your Favorite Activities

During the summer it is normal to feel compelled to join all social activities, events, and meetups. However, a packed schedule and not enough time to dedicate to yourself and to the activities you love the most can end up affecting your mental health and wellbeing. 

That is why you should consider dedicating some time each week to the activities that help you relax. While everyone is different, you might consider taking up gardening, reading a book, exercising, or even volunteering!

Spend Time With Your Friends and Loved Ones

Socialization is important throughout the year, but it is even more so during the summer months. If you have not been feeling yourself, or you have noticed your stress levels rising, consider spending some time with the people you love. 

Your friends, family members, and colleagues can help you get out of your mind and have healthy fun. 

If you are looking to change up your circle of friends and make new acquaintances, consider taking on a new hobby or taking part in a course. These experiences can help you meet and bond with new people. 

Spend at Least 2 Hours a Week in Nature

Not everyone is lucky enough to live next to a national park, unspoiled forest, or crystal clear sea. However, this shouldn’t stop you from spending time in nature! According to Nature, spending just 120 minutes in nature each week can help lower stress levels, refocus your mind, and boost your mood. And, all you will need to do to reap these benefits is find a local park, green area, or beach. 

If you feel like you don’t have enough time to keep up with all of these activities, opting to exercise outdoors or taking your hobbies to the nearest park can help you combine multiple practices that aid your mental well-being without disrupting your schedule. 

Talk to a Therapist

Sometimes, simply practicing some meditation and taking time for yourself might not be enough. If you have been dealing with severe mood swings or you have experienced aggressive or depressive episodes, you should not think twice about finding a therapist you can trust. 

While finding help to regain mental well-being is a decision that has been surrounded by stigma for decades, partnering with a therapist can truly help you regain control over your mental and emotional health. 

Ready to make the most of the summer months ahead? Take the first step towards better overall health today. 

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