Taking Care of Yourself this Summer
Many people prioritize mental health during the winter months because this is when they need to the most. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during the fall and winter months, but typically subsides with spring and summer. This can result in individuals engaging in therapy and prioritizing their mental health during the fall and winter, but not throughout the rest of the year when they are feeling better.
What if there was preparation you could do in the summer to help mitigate the impact of the winter months?
Let’s look at a few practices you can do during the summer that can carry over into the harder, darker days of winter.
Prioritizing time outside:
The sun shining on your drive home from work can immediately make you feel better, but are you intentionally spending time outside? The warmer months are a great time to soak up all the vitamin D you can get. This can look like a quick walk on your lunch break or after work. Maybe you decide to eat lunch outside or spend time on your porch or in the backyard in the afternoons. Feel free to have friends join you outside, it can be good for their mental health too!
Setting boundaries with screen time:
What is your daily screen time? Don’t know? Head over to your settings and see how much time you spend on your screen. If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling social media or watching video after video, then setting a boundary for screen time might be helpful. The boundaries you set now will help you during the shorter, winter months when endlessly scrolling might be even more appealing.
Move your body regularly:
Do you have a consistent routine to move your body? This can be as simple as stretching in the morning or before bed. Or maybe taking a 5-minute walk on your lunch break or a short bike ride when you get home. Have a friend you want to catch up with? Maybe they will join you! Using the summer and warmer months to build a consistent routine can help this carry over into the winter, when the motivation to start a habit might be an all-time low.
Be strategic about therapy:
Do you stop going to therapy when you feel better? While it’s amazing that you’re feeling better, consider spacing out your sessions further during months you feel good instead of stopping all together. This can make it much easier to transition back into more frequent sessions in other months or seasons when you feel like you need more support. This is a great conversation to have with your personal clinician, as they can recommend what they think is a good fit for you!
All these strategies can be started during the summer months, allowing you to carry them over into winter. Use this summer to start habits that you want to keep throughout the rest of the year!