Summer can be a long awaited time of rest, relaxation, and destination escape for many. But for some, it can also bring on an entirely new set of anxiety triggers. Our mental health matters don't take a vacation just because the rest of the world is, and you may find yourself feeling just as stressed or despondent in the sunnier seasons.
Noisy crowds, costly getaways, and social media pressures to live your best summer life can all take their toll on what should be a welcome time of reprieve. Fortunately, there are some simple self care approaches you can take to making the most of your holiday, at home or abroad. Here are 7 tips for keeping your summer on the more soothing side of fun:
1. Try To Avoid Comparisons
As you probably know, summer is high season for sun-drenched social media sharing and let's face it, it can be a little overwhelming. With so many people planning or already basking in tropical getaways, lavish activities, or blog-worthy family fun, you may be wondering how you can possibly compare. Well, don't! Curate your summer around YOU: plan activities that are within your budget and personal interests, go at your own pace, and focus on making the most of your time in a way that feels right for you. Limit your social media expenditure and put those hours towards the outdoors, where even your local park can provide both escape and social engagement aplenty.
2. Take Time For Daily Joy
Whether you've planned a big trip or some serious Netflix binging on the home front, summer is the time for savoring day-to-day pleasures. A popsicle on the back porch, a nap in the sun, or barbecue with friends and family can all be part of a welcome ritual throughout the summer months. By treating yourself on the regular, no matter how big or small the gesture, your summer can provide you with all the peace of mind and genuine comfort you deserve.
3. Continue With Counseling
It's normal for families and individuals alike to hit the pause button on counseling services when school is out and work breaks have set in–after all, who wants to be online or in office with a therapist when warmer activities beckon? However, keep in mind that it's ok to schedule an appointment with your counselor or healthcare provider if the need arises. To echo the opening sentiment, just because you're on vacation doesn't mean your mental health struggles are relaxing on a sandy beach of their own; it's important to remind yourself that mental healthcare IS self care, so don't be afraid to reach out between the fireworks and poolside lounging.
4. Avoid The Crowds
Regardless of whether you live rurally or in a popular tourist destination, avoiding summer crowds can provide a great deal of natural R&R. If you're prone to social anxiety or panic attacks, it may help to seek out locales and activities where the louder, rowdier crews are scarce. When visiting public hotspots, such as museums or amusement parks, try to pick a time of day or week when the crowds are fewer, and the atmosphere is more relaxed. Similarly, look for secluded outdoor yoga and meditation sessions that are frequently offered in your area, as these are affordable and enjoyable ways to take a break from the masses.
5. Surround Yourself With Good Company–Even If It Means By Yourself
Summer is the time to reconnect with loved ones outside of work and school-related drama, to relax and enjoy one another's company, whether it's on the beach or at a backyard cookout. While we can't control who our coworkers or classmates are, we can decide who to devote our personal time to. There's no shame in saying no to social gatherings you'd rather not attend, or flying solo altogether. Taking yourself out to a movie or outdoor music concert, or even enjoying a getaway on your own, can be the best kind of luxury, and much-needed antidote to social fatigue.
6. Choose Calming Destinations When Traveling
If you and your partner or family are planning a summer vacation, you're well within your right to ask for more low key alternatives to the usual destinations. Bustling tourist spots like Disney World or popular resorts may look enticing in the ads, but are typically packed during the summer, and notorious stressors to-boot. Look for more off-the-beaten-path locales, or even off-season cities where foot traffic is considerably lower. Not only are these options usually more budget-friendly, but infinitely more relaxing than waiting in long lines or fighting the crowds the duration of your trip.
7. Keep To A Routine
No, that doesn't mean hitting the snooze button on the alarm at 6 a.m. or sticking to the rigorous regimen of your work or school year! Keeping even a loose personal routine throughout the summer will not only give you a sense of structure and purpose, but make sure you're not missing out on the best of it.
Summer should be a special time of unwinding and hitting the reset button after a year of long hours and hard work. Sure, we should all make time for ourselves no matter the season, but summer has a mythical allure that's hard to resist. The pressure to savor the season can be strong, and for those who struggle with mental health related issues may find it more of a burden than break. By planning your summer to suit your needs, making time to savor all the day-to-day pleasures so many overlook, and continuing with your counseling, your summer can provide both fun and true peace of mind.