What comes to your mind when you think of summer? Maybe school vacations, splashing in the water, and picnics in the park. But do you know that summer is also a time when many people experience mental health challenges? Many people may be surprised by this fact, but mental health crises may increase for a certain subset of the population during the summer months. Take seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for example. It is not just a common winter health issue. SAD may also affect some people in the summer. This is why it is important to prioritize self-care during the summer season. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention has all the resources to support you.
Understanding Mental Health Challenges in the Summer
There are many reasons why people may experience mental health challenges in the summer season. First, this is the time of the year when your normal routines of school and work are disrupted. Parents need to keep school-aged children occupied all day. Vacations are great but they may disrupt your sleep and eating habits. Secondly, some people experience depressive episodes with longer days, heat, loss of appetite, and anxiety.
The heat alone can also make people lose a sense of routinization due to sleeplessness. People who suffer from pre-existing mental health illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or chronic depression, tend to find that their symptoms worsen during the summer months. Another common reason is related to body image. When layers of clothing fall away, some people may feel self-conscious about their body image. They may not venture to social occasions or the beach. Social isolation actually increases for a certain subset of the population. Summertime is also a more expensive period when families spend more on fun activities and vacations. Many people feel financially strapped, and that will create anxiety.
Essential Summer Self-Care Tips
Self-care is particularly important for people whose mental health conditions tend to worsen during hot summer months. First of all, if you are struggling with worsening mental health conditions, it is always best to reach out to a therapist. Never take the early signs lightly. Secondly, if summer tends to be a challenging time, plan ahead by reducing the most common stressors, such as finance or children’s activities. Preplanning the summer can give you more room to breathe and relax.
It is essential to begin self-care with the three building blocks of overall health: diet, sleep, and exercise. Many people overdo dieting before summer arrives. But restrictive diets may rob the body of important nutrients to stay emotionally healthy. Pay attention to how the food you eat impacts your mood. Healthy food choices alone can greatly boost your emotional and mental health.
When it comes to sleep, summer vacations and late-night get-togethers may disrupt your routines. Make sure you always prioritize an early bedtime for the entire family, even if it is still bright outside. If it helps, wearing sleep eye folds may help the body restore to its natural circadian rhythm. Preparing a clean and relaxing bedroom environment and adopting rituals before bed may also help enhance sleep quality.
Summer exercises should not be avoided. But in order to keep the body hydrated, maybe consider planning regular exercises in the early morning or later in the evening. Avoid over-exposure in the sun, and always put on sunscreen for skin protection. Commit to healthy routines of family exercise if possible so that both you and your children can be engaged and active.
Overcoming Self-Care Myths
There are many widely-held myths about practicing self-care. For the summer months, some people may assume it will be more relaxing, so self-care is not needed. But there are different ways to relax. Sometimes you may think you should be relaxing, but your mind and body are always busy with things. Given the combination of commitments to family and work during the summer months, it is always wise to intentionally create breaks for yourself. Maybe this means just sitting with yourself in solitude and avoiding the frenzy of going here and there.
Another myth about self-care is that it is for people who have overcome mental health challenges. Effective self-care techniques can prevent or heal you from ongoing mental health issues. Many self-care methods are designed to restore the mind-body connection, giving space for the brain to heal from stress and anxiety. Below are a few options you can try this summer:
- Ensuring a balanced diet with plenty of water
- Setting daily relaxation routines
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Establishing a bedtime ritual
- Setting time aside to connect with yourself
In sum, summer is a busy time for most people. It is important to prioritize self-care in all the busyness. Identifying early signs of mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders and depression, can ensure you and your family spend a memorable summer together. In situations of emergency, it is also crucial to seek professional help. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention offers a full range of mental health treatment services.
Have you thought about self-care in the hot summer months? Despite the high energy and busyness, mental health awareness is still important. Anxiety and depression can happen in summer too, due to a wide range of factors. Consider the risk factors in your summer months and plan ahead for your own well-being. At any time, you should also be open to seeking treatment in situations of need. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention has a team of mental health experts who can support you and your family. We provide services including diagnosis and assessment, medications, crisis stabilization, family counseling, and whole-person wellness. Seek treatment and begin your healing journey. Call (866) 986-1481 today.