Let's face it, we tend to focus on our bodies during the summer. But it’s an excellent time to improve our mental health, too. If your emotions and/or mindset need some work, this is the perfect season to pause and take care of yourself.
It's no secret that mental health is tied to physical health. And you already know you should be exercising regularly throughout the year. So, here are three simple steps to better mental health this summer.
1. Get outside. Never underestimate the power of being outside in any season, but especially Summer. The benefits of sunshine and fresh air cannot be overstated. Sun exposure boosts vitamin D and serotonin, which improve your mood. Smelling flowers or cut grass, breathing fresh air, hearing the sounds of nature and playing in the sand or a park have real benefits for our mood, too. It feels good because it IS good.
2. Use vacation time. Even if you don’t go on a trip, you need the time off from work. There are probably a bunch of little things you could do around the house or in your town that would lower your stress and bring a smile to your face. Catch up on annual appointments or visits with friends and family. Sit in the sun and read a book all day (with proper protection from the sun's UV rays, of course)!
3. Focus on rest and sleep. It’s easy to get so stressed or mentally overloaded that you stay up half the night worrying – then spend the day trying to make everybody happy (except yourself). Research shows that it’s helpful to go to bed and to wake up at the same time each day, even on off days from work. Building a routine is essential to establishing healthy sleep patterns – which are essential for mental and physical wellbeing. If your sleep schedule is off, vacation is a great time to get it back on track without the worry of getting to work on time or having a ton of energy.
If you’re having an issue that persists, remember you don’t have to go it alone. All the tips and tricks in the world sometimes just aren't enough to solve our emotional troubles. Seek a counselor’s help, just like you would any other expert’s advice with any challenge. Remember that self care definitely includes your mental wellbeing.
Let the sunshine in. You deserve to bask in it and reap all the benefits!