“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” the old song may go, but that isn’t the case for everyone. While others may be looking forward to family vacations, outdoor gatherings, and the laid-back vibe summer months can bring, for some, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) actually increases during the summer months. 

Mental health encompasses your emotional, social, and psychological wellness. It can affect how you manage stress, thrive in relationships, and make important decisions. If your mental health is suffering, there’s also a chance it could increase your risk of serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke, or diabetes

If you find yourself experiencing increased anxiety, depression, or even simply new mood swings that affect your personal life or daily activities this summer, here are a few things you can do. 

Summertime Self-Care

Particularly since the introduction of COVID into our lives, you may have heard people throwing around the advice to “practice self-care.” But what does that really look like? In general, self care means prioritizing both physical and emotional needs.

Though your friends and family may have ideas about how to do it, self-care can be understandably difficult to accomplish. If you’re struggling, here are some areas to focus on.

Physical Health:

Physical self-care can include exercise, nutrition, quality sleep, keeping up regular check-ups with your doctor, and staying hydrated. In the heat of summer months, this might include:

  • Swimming or finding an online exercise workout you can do at home, indoors
  • Creating light but healthful meals incorporating fruits, nuts, fish or chicken, and crisp, refreshing greens
  • Keeping your bedroom cool with dark shades and quiet fans
  • Scheduling a skin exam with your doctor or dermatologist
  • Keeping a cheerily-decorated water bottle nearby (and full of cold water)

Mental Health:

Mental health self-care can involve anything that stimulates your brain and helps you practice kindness toward yourself. Summertime mental self-care might include:

  • Watching a summer blockbuster or playing a favorite game with friends
  • Saying something you like about yourself out loud each time you look in the mirror
  • Sitting quietly in the sun or shade with a book or journal
  • Taking time to organize a desk drawer or closet
  • Saying no to invitations if attending will only cause you stress

Emotional Health:

Emotional self-care empowers you to recognize and feel both positive and negative emotions, but to express them in ways that are healthy for your mind, body, and personal connections. Use the summer to do this by:

  • Setting up a phone or virtual call with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while
  • Exploring a new guided meditation
  • Playing with a pet (either yours or someone else’s)
  • Writing a letter to one of your strongest emotions, telling it how it makes you feel
  • Boxing with a mattress or pillow
  • Laughing as frequently (and heartily) as possible

Find Professional Support if Needed

If none of these tactics seem to be changing your summertime blues, or your symptoms are becoming overwhelming, a mental health professional may provide the support and suggestions you need to work through the season. In Georgia, there are several community services available, including the Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) which can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-715-4225. Your primary care physician can also serve as good counsel and support for your mental health needs.

At University Health Alliance, our mission is to provide complete and compassionate healthcare — and that includes your mental health. To schedule an appointment with a provider, call us at 762-356-4933.