Summer time is amazing for an array of reasons – not least that the sunshine has a proven positive effect on your mental health. Researchers from Brigham Young University dedicated a study to the topic back in 2016, and reported that “seasonal increases in sun time were associated with decreased mental health distress.”
But what about when you’re feeling a bit low during the sunny summer months? It can be a testing time to look after your mental health, when social plans spike and the sheer volume of people on the pavements can make you feel intense FOMO if you decide to stay in. Below, we discuss how to cope when you’re feeling down despite the sun shining.
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Alone Time First off, know that there is no right way to ‘do’ summer. When the sun comes out, it’s hard not to feel like life should look like an Instagram highlight reel, surrounded by friends and endless cocktails. It’s important to know that it’s absolutely a-ok to spend time by yourself, if that’s what you need to do. Instead of saying ‘yes’ to every invite that comes your way, take a bit of time to assess if you really want to go to that rooftop bar or BBQ. Will being surrounded by people make you feel anxious or benefit your mood? Check in with yourself before you say yes.
Money Money is a huge stressor at the best of times, but during the warmer months it seems nigh-on impossible not to splash lots of your hard earned cash if you want to have fun. If you’ve considered the above point and you do feel like you want to join in with social plans, then set yourself a budget. Transfer the money you can afford to spend onto a separate card like Monzo to ensure you don’t wake up the next day filled with regret about the £100 you dropped on prosecco in that beer garden.
Treat yourself with small activities On days where you literally can’t fathom engaging in social activities, be that due to a dip in mood or a spontaneous wave of anxiety, try to keep yourself busy with a small task that doesn’t feel too overwhelming. Treat yourself to a manicure at home, take a long hot bath, open all the windows and put on a really good playlist, or if you’re up to it – take a book to the park. You can enjoy the smells and sounds of summer without having to be in the thick of social activities. It’s important to re-define what summer looks like in your mind, and ensure you’re doing what you want to do, not what you think is expected of you. While summer is a great time for exploring, travelling and seeing your friends, when you’re having a particularly hard time with your mental health, remembering that you need to show yourself the same compassion as you do at other times of the year is important. Your mental health is more important than what you post on social media or the number of parties you attend. Spending time working on yourself, checking in with how you’re feeling, and choosing what’s right for you is just as valid.