Five Tips for Boosting Your Summer Mental Health
For many of us, summer is a season of freedom and fun. But for some, summer can make us feel overwhelmed and exhausted and counting the days until fall. Between the lack of routine with school being out, increased responsibilities, and an overall pressure to enjoy our time, it’s no wonder that summer can also increase our feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression. In fact, up to 30% of individuals with seasonal depression experience Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Finding simple ways to prioritize your mental health can help you reduce stress and anxiety so you can make the most of the summer months. Here are five tips to help you stay mentally healthy this summer.
1. Spend time outside. 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! Having low levels of vitamin D can increase your risk of experiencing 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.
2. Get active. Engaging in exercise decreases stress hormones like cortisol, while simultaneously increasing dopamine, serotonin, and your body’s “feel good” chemicals known as endorphins. This provides you 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.
3. Redefine your expectations. People often hype summer as the best time of the year, but summer isn’t the only time for fun. Plan fun trips or parties during the rest of the year so not all of the pressure is placed on a few months.
4. Create a summer routine. 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 calmer and more energized each morning.
5. Lose the guilt of saying “no.” You don’t have to attend every event, party, or family trip. Give yourself permission to say no, even if you don’t have other plans and feel like relaxing at home instead. “Me time” is allowed.
You don’t have to wait until you’re struggling to get mental health support. To learn more about how St. Luke’s Penn Foundation can help you navigate life stressors and stay balanced in your day-to-day life, visit www.PennFoundation.org.