During the summer, we all tend to let ourselves go a little bit. Our hair grows longer, our clothes show more skin, and we may neglect our studies. Unfortunately, in my own experience, as well as that of some of my friends, summer can also be a time where we neglect our mental health needs.
Summer should be a time of relaxation and of making sure that all of our needs are met. This list of activities and daily habits will help you stay healthy all summer long.
1. Start Daily Self-Care Rituals
If you are prone to panic attacks, suffer from anxiety, PTSD, or a similar illness, practicing deep breathing techniques once a day can go a long way. Meditation and mindfulness activities can also be useful exercises and can be implemented later during high stress scenarios.
Even if you groan at the mention of the word “exercise,” many studies have shown that it can greatly improve mood and alleviate some symptoms of depression. Simple exercises such as going for a walk can have positive effects on your overall well-being.
3. Eat Right (for You)
Some foods have been associated with increased prevalence of symptoms in physical and mental illnesses. In my own experience, consuming caffeine greatly increases my anxiety and can make panic attacks much more severe. If you know that a certain food will make you feel unpleasant later or exacerbates your symptoms, steer clear of it!
4. Set a Summer Goal
Summer can also be a time for growth and exploration. Make some goals for the summer months so that you always have something to work toward. Make an effort to take up new hobbies, explore your neighborhood park, or go on a trip.
5. Reach Out to Friends
One major bummer about summer is that we have a tendency to isolate ourselves, especially for those of us who are naturally introverts or suffer from some anxiety related disorders. Make plans with people you care about and don’t be afraid to ask them for help if you are struggling.
6. Keep Up with Your Treatment
Amidst late nights on the computer, parties, and concerts, some habits might get overlooked. One major thing to make sure you keep up with is your medication. Also, continuing to see your therapist and following their advice is a foolproof plan to taking care of your mental health.
7. Create a Self-Care Plan
In times of crisis, it’s good to have a plan ready. Take a sheet of paper, or open a note on your phone, and write down healthy coping mechanisms that work for you. Also, be sure to write down the name’s and contact information of people that you feel comfortable talking to such as your therapist, family members, or friends. If you need additional help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).