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  • Summertime might seem like the most relaxing season. Indeed, the increased sunshine boosts your brain’s production of serotonin, a chemical that may help regulate your mood and stress levels. 

    However, you can experience poor mental health any time of year. 

    To raise your sense of wellness in the warmer months, follow these seven self-care tips.

    1. Practice Mindfulness

    When you experience fear, sadness, or other unpleasant emotions, it’s normal to want them to go away. However, in many cases, struggling against your feelings only makes them stronger. That’s why you should try adding mindfulness to your daily routine. 

    Mindfulness is the practice of observing your thoughts, sensations, and environment without judgment. This strategy can help you manage difficult emotions and situations more effectively. 

    To get started, try mindfulness meditation. Get comfortable, and focus on the sensation of your breath. When your mind wanders, gently return your attention to your breath. You might want to look up a guided meditation online, especially when first starting out. 

    2. Spend Time In Nature

    Sunlight boosts a mood-regulating chemical called serotonin. It also gives you vitamin D, an important nutrient that can help improve your mood. 

    Take advantage of the summer sunlight by getting outside as often as you can. You’ll also benefit from the fresh air. The increased oxygen can help improve brain function, strengthening your mental health.

    For even greater benefits, go outside with your friends or family. Whether you hike, swim, or just sit outside together, spending time with loved ones is another essential part of self-care.

    3. Sleep Well

    Many summers include vacations, late-night parties, and other events that make it difficult to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Even so, it’s important to keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible. 

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day helps you get restful sleep. If you don’t get at least seven hours of sleep per night, your mental health will likely suffer. 

    Other tips for good sleep include:

    • keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and a comfortable temperature
    • keeping electronic devices out of your bedroom
    • avoiding large meals, alcohol, and caffeine before bedtime

    4. Journal

    Journaling is an excellent way to check in with yourself and keep track of your mental health. 

    Every day, or at least a few times a week, use your journal to explore your thoughts and experiences. When you get difficult feelings on paper, it’s easier to figure out the healthiest way to handle them.

    In addition, writing also gives you a chance to document your favorite summer memories and other things you feel grateful for. Studies suggest that taking time to express gratitude can increase feelings of well-being.

    5. Exercise

    Whether you hit the gym or take a simple walk around the neighborhood, physical activity greatly benefits your mental health. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals that make you feel calm and happy. 

    The CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. For example, you could go for a 30 minute walk 5 days a week. 

    You could also use the warm weather as an opportunity to try exciting new activities, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, or rock climbing.

    6. Limit Social Media

    On a lazy summer day, you might get the urge to spend hours scrolling through social media. However, studies suggest that spending too much online can take a toll on your mental health.

    You might compare yourself to others, damaging your self-esteem. Also, frequently exposing yourself to negative news can drain your mood and worsen symptoms of anxiety or depression.

    Keep track of the time you spend on social media each day. Then, try cutting it down little by little. This strategy will help you set a goal for daily or weekly usage that doesn’t hinder your mental health. 

    7. Consider Therapy

    If you have preexisting mental health issues (such as depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD), therapy can help you manage them during summer and the rest of the year.

    Your therapist can also help you determine if you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition causes symptoms of depression (including fatigue, loss of appetite, and hopelessness) at specific times of the year. 

    Though most people experience it in the winter months, it can also occur during summer. Your therapist can teach you personalized coping skills to ease your symptoms.

    If you or someone you love struggles with poor mental health, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer personalized, evidence-based treatments for substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health issues.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Do You Get Enough Sleep?
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - How much physical activity do adults need?
    Department of Health and Human Services - Social Media and Youth Mental Health
    Lancet - Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain
    MMC - Gratitude and Well Being
    National Institutes of Health - Mindfulness for Your Health
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - How to Improve Mental Health

    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on June 10, 2023
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