Summer – A Time of Sunshine, Swimming, and ….. Stress?!
As we move into the warmest months of the year, what used to feel like a time of freedom and fun often leaves many of us overwhelmed, exhausted, and counting down the days until Fall.
Between the lack of routine with school being out, increased responsibilities, and an overall pressure to enjoy your time, it’s no wonder summer can also increase our feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression.
In fact, some people experience Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder, often referred to as
“Summertime SAD.” Although Seasonal Affective Disorder is more common in the Winter months, affecting about 4-6% of the population, about 10% of that group also experiences summer anxiety and depression.
There’s no one clear answer as to why this happens, but it’s likely that the longer days, higher temperatures, and changes in schedules all play a significant role.
5 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health this Summer
Whether you’re overwhelmed just thinking of the months ahead, or are feeling pretty good as we move into the new season, finding simple ways to prioritize your mental health can be key to reducing stress and anxiety, and making the most of your time!
Here are 5 tips to help you stay mentally healthy this summer:
- Spend time outside (with sunscreen, of course)
Spending time in the sunshine is the best way to allow your body to produce one of its essential nutrients, Vitamin D. In fact, most people get about 90% of their Vitamin D directly from the sun!
Vitamin D is responsible for building and maintaining healthy bones, supporting immune health, and improving muscle function and brain cell activity. Having low levels of vitamin D can increase your risk for diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure, as well as increase your risk of various mental health disorders including depression and schizophrenia.
This makes spending time outside each day a great way to boost your mood and manage your overall health!
- Get Active
We all know that exercise is good for our physical health, but did you know it can also have a substantial impact on your mental health?
Engaging in exercise decreases stress hormones like cortisol, while simultaneously increasing dopamine, serotonin, and your bodies “feel good” chemicals known as endorphins. This provides people with a natural mood boost that not only reduces feelings of anxiety and depression, but also improves sleep patterns, memory, concentration, and self– control!
Try to spend at least 30 minutes each day, 3-4 times a week engaging in your favorite form of physical activity. Even better, do something active outside to give your body a vitamin D boost at the same time!
- Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a great way to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by engaging your senses and becoming more aware of the present moment. This can look like yoga, deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, or a variety of other techniques that calm and focus the mind.
On top of that, mindfulness has been shown to increase self-esteem, improve sleep, and reduce chronic pain.
Check out our Smartphone Wellness Apps Guide under the Resource tab of our website to find a variety of highly– rated mindfulness meditation apps to try. You can also register for one of our Online Yoga Classes, designed specifically to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Create a summer routine
With school out and typical schedules thrown out the window for a few months, creating a simple and flexible “summer routine” can play a key role in helping the days run smoothly for both kids and adults! Even just keeping consistent sleep-wake times can leave you feeling more calm and energized each morning.
A couple other ways you can add routine to your summer schedule include:
- Having times set aside each week to be active
- Picking a couple of nights each week for family dinner
- Keeping a consistent lunch and/or nap time for kids
- Seek Mental Health Support
You don’t have to wait until you’re struggling to get mental health support. Finding a therapist to help you navigate the stressors, work towards your goals, and stay balanced in your day- to-day life can help you experience a healthier, happier, and more meaningful summer.
Call us today at 949.528.6300 or email info@OCHealthPsych.com to get matched with one of our experienced licensed providers.
Written by Cassie Cipolla for Orange County Health Psychologists