The warmth, relaxation and the flexibility that summer brings can be an exciting time for filled with vacations and sunshine. But for some, summer months can have the potential to trigger feelings of being overwhelmed and losing control. Expectations of being carefree can put a lot of pressure on those who are struggling with depression or anxiety. Individuals need to keep in mind that we do not have to keep up with the Joneses to enjoy summertime. Below are self-care tips and tricks that can be used to maintain your mental health during the summer months.

Get outside

Exposure to natural sunlight increases levels of vitamin D and serotonin, which are known to boost your mood. Taking a moment to step outdoors, smell the roses, feel the sand under your toes and watch a sunset can provide a sense of calming and well being. Pick up a new outdoor hobby where you can spend 30 minutes in the sunshine. Whether it is gardening, hiking or paddle boarding, spending time outdoors is an essential element of self-care.

Enjoy your time off

Many of us use your paid vacation time to accomplish tasks around the house that we neglect during our busy workweeks. Instead of cleaning out the closet, organizing the garage and attending long-overdue appointments, use your vacation to enjoy yourself. Such activities can include reading a book at home or traveling to a new place for the day. Your vacation time should be spent unwinding and enjoying time away from your to-do lists.

Plan a getaway

Getting out of town and experiencing a change in scenery is a great way to unwind and re-focus your energy on the present. Whether it is an overnight getaway or a multi-week international trip, escaping the business from the daily grind can help clear your mind and boost your mood. This can help you immensely on your return home back to your everyday routine.

Maintain a healthy sleep schedule

Just because school is out for summer and your kids can stay up late and sleep in does not mean they should. As parents, try to maintain a healthy and steady sleep schedule for ourselves and our kids, regardless of our work and school schedules, have become more lenient. It is recommended that we obtain 8-10 uninterrupted hours of sleep, as sleep hygiene is an essential component of our mental health.

Stay active

Whether it is going to the gym, signing up for a yoga class or taking a walk outside, physical activity is known to boost your mood. During the summer months, it is easy to stay on the couch and binge-watch the latest television series. But an idle activity can promote negative consequences on our physical and mental health. Try to maintain 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day, and you may be surprised how good you feel.

If you or someone you love is experiencing mental health issues and not enjoying activities like in the past, Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program can help find the right treatment for every person.

Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a clinical content writer and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of mental health and addiction medicine. She is a family medicine physician and author, who also teaches and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies within educating the public on preventable diseases, including mental health disorders and the stigma associated with them. She is also an outdoor activist and spends most of her free time empowering other women to get outside into the backcountry.

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