What does summer mean to you? A family vacation? Enjoying a cold iced tea by the pool? Catching up with friends? Everyone has different ideas about how to best enjoy the warmer weather. But for some, especially those struggling with substance abuse or mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety, the stress-free expectation of summer can make it feel anything but carefree.
An important part of mental health treatment is doing things that keep you happy and healthy, and feeling absolutely no pressure to take part in things that don’t. This season, take the pressure off by taking on summer on your terms. Curious where to start? Here are our top 10 summer health care tips to keep your mind and body healthy all season long:
1. Try something new
Everyone has bucket list item or two they’re eager to try. Giving yourself permission to break out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never done before may prove exhilarating. By doing so, you’re nurturing the confidence required to take on bigger challenges life throws your way.
2. Eat seasonally
Explore your culinary cravings by indulging in the abundance of summer produce available. Not only will they make your body feel good, but your mind may benefit as well. Summertime fruits like watermelon, papaya and grapefruit are considered boosting mood and may help fight off depression.
3. Hydrate often
Water consumption is important to both mental and physical health. After all, more than 70% of our bodies, including the brain, are made of the stuff. The importance of water reigns even more true during summer months when hot weather leaves us more prone to dehydration. Encourage yourself to drink more by investing in a water bottle that can be easily toted around. Bonus points for a bottle with fun summer imagery or a positive affirmation to provide a little cheer every time you sip.
4. Volunteer your talent
Take volunteering to the next level by donating both your talent and time. For example, instead of simply joining a beach cleanup (also great!), maybe you can lend your professional PR skills to help a local nonprofit get noticed or dedicate a hobby skill like jewelry making to help an organization earn some extra money. By taking a more active volunteer role, you highlight your own value, fortifying the self-assurance that is sometimes diminished by struggles with a mental health disorder.
5. Wear sunscreen
Not the most fun tip, but one that will keep you feeling happy and healthy. It’s important to wear sunscreen every day, not just when you’re heading to the beach. And don’t forget those often-neglected areas, such as the feet and backs of the legs.
6. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness involves dedicating time to be consciously aware of the present moment. Mindfulness provides a number of positive benefits, including an increase in self-awareness and a decrease in anxiety. Plus, it can be practiced in as little as 5 minutes increments, making it very easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
7. Mix up your exercise routine
A gym routine is great, but it can get boring. Take advantage of great weather by getting yourself moving outdoors. Exercise is an important part of any mental health treatment plan because it positively alters your brain chemistry and helps regulate your mood.
8. Reconnect with an old friend
It’s so easy for life to get in the way of valuable friendships, and summer is as great a time as any reestablish those important connections. Whether it’s a simple phone call or an organized weekend meet-up in another city, reconnecting with an old friend can have a positive impact on your sense of wellbeing.
9. Tackle a summer reading list
Ask for recommendations from friends, and then get lost in a novel or learn something new—no phone or computer screen required.
10. Honor your limits
Summer parties and barbecues often go hand-in-hand with alcohol consumption, so they’re not always the best environments for someone with a substance abuse disorder. Whatever you choose to do this summer, make sure to set yourself up for success by spending your time in environments that support your health and wellbeing.
If the summer is a difficult time for you, we can help.
At Alvarado Parkway Institute, we offer premiere mental health services in San Diego. If you or someone you know needs some extra support this summer, we offer both inpatient and intensive outpatient programs for long-term stabilization and symptom management for a wide range of mental health disorders.
For more information about any of our programs, please reach out via the contact form on our website or call our 24-hour referral and crisis line at (619) 667-6125.