Seasonal depression most often affects people during the shorter winter months. But for some, summer can trigger feelings of gloom, and still others live with depression year-round. With the dog days officially here, we wanted to offer ideas for maintaining summertime wellness. Keep in mind that many of these tips can be used all year but are especially helpful right now, to ensure your summer is anything but a bummer.
We mean it! Get up, get outside, and soak up some of that glorious sunshine. Studies show that exposure to sunlight boosts serotonin levels. This hormone helps stabilize mood, focus, and overall happiness.
In addition, direct sunlight helps the body create vitamin D, which is a key element to supporting healthy brain, heart, and lung function. Vitamin D also regulates insulin levels and strengthens the body’s immune system. So, be sure to get a healthy dose of sunshine to help keep your body healthy.
If you already have an exercise routine, keep at it throughout the summer. For those who don’t yet have one, consider developing a program to get your heart rate up and keep your mind and body healthy. Whether you’re into biking, hiking, walking, swimming, or yoga, research indicates that physical activity releases endorphins or “feel good neurotransmitters” that trigger a positive sensation in the body.
Exercise also releases dopamine and by extension norepinephrine, which help us feel good and maintain alertness. In addition to staying physically fit, exercise keeps your mind healthy and able, too. Try to include 20-30 minutes of daily activity that gets your heart rate up.
GET ENOUGH REST
The longer summer days can hinder your desire or ability to maintain a decent sleep schedule. With so many things to do – bonfires with friends or late nights at the family cabin – you may stay up later than usual.
But lack of quality rest can leave you feeling tired and surly. If those feelings continue, they can lead to overwhelming stress, anxiety, and depression. And long-term sleep deprivation can cause physical complications like heart disease and diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 7 hours of sleep each night for adults 18-60. Stay as close to your regular sleep schedule as possible. And try not to sleep in too late on weekends, as this can throw your circadian rhythm out of whack.
USE AND RELISH TIME OFF
Many people take a day or two off from work to get things done around the house that they don’t otherwise have time to complete. In essence, you’re taking time from work – to work. While the feeling of accomplishment is nice, be sure you’re also taking time to relax and reset.
Get out of town for a day or two and enjoy a change of scenery. Experiencing a new place can help alleviate work tension and reminders, especially if you’re working from home. Oftentimes it is difficult to separate work life and home life when the two have been so closely linked since early 2020. Allow your mind and body to see and sense new things and new surroundings to pique your interest and curiosity.
If you truly would prefer to stay home, try diving into a good book. You can enjoy an imaginary yet intense adventure from wherever you’re most comfortable.
HANG WITH FRIENDS
Some of the best therapy is laughter, and nothing beats laughing with friends. Good friends help lift our spirits, make us feel confident and worthy, help relieve stress and cope with trauma, and increase happiness. Having a solid support system of friends also helps reduce the risk of depression and may help you live longer.
Spend your time this summer with friends who offer support and with whom you have fun. Those who encourage healthy lives also enhance our lives with their positive energy. Enjoy life surrounded by those who provide quality companionship, and you will find yourself more relaxed and at peace.
The summer months should be a time of fun and sun, but it can also be a time for social anxiety and depression. With these ideas for summertime wellness, you can hopefully get out, bask in the sunshine, relax, and enjoy yourself. If you still have difficulty keeping your mind and body at ease, the experienced professionals at Healthwise are here to listen. Our collaborative approach to mental wellness is what sets us apart. Contact us today to learn more.