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Summer of Self-Care: Why it’s not Selfish but Vital

Most of the time we see clients drop out of counseling for the summer because they start to feel better, and summer does tend to be a time of travel, a slower pace, and lots of sunshine and swimming pools. We have found, however, that sometimes, and for some people, their mental health doesn’t get better with summer. While that can be discouraging for some people, there are things that you can do that can help. Here are several ways you can focus on self-care and prioritize your mental health this summer:

  1. Talk with your counselor

If you have a counselor, be sure to talk with them about taking a break for the summer. If you’ve been working on some specific goals for a few months, it might be time for a break. But there is also the possibility that you might lose some momentum. Having a discussion with your therapist at your next session can help you get a plan for summer without feeling like you’re going to lose progress. Here are some great questions to keep in mind when you are looking for a counselor.

 

  1. Connect with Nature

Take advantage of the longer days and pleasant weather by spending time outdoors. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll in the park, a hike in the mountains, or simply lounging in your backyard, immersing yourself in nature can have profound effects on your mental health. Research has shown that spending time in green spaces reduces stress, improves mood, and enhances overall well-being.

 

  1. Practice Mindfulness

Summer is the perfect time to practice mindfulness and live in the present moment. Engage in activities that promote mindfulness, such as yoga, meditation, or simply enjoying a quiet moment, and try to do all of these outdoors. By tuning into your senses and being fully present, you can reduce anxiety, increase self-awareness, and enhance your overall sense of peace and contentment. We recommend 20 minutes of sunshine per day and then apply sunscreen. Research shows this is the amount of time we need to absorb Vitamin D. We have some great resources on mindfulness found here.

 

  1. Set Boundaries

Summer often brings a flurry of social invitations (open houses!) and activities, which can sometimes lead to feelings of overwhelm and burnout. It’s important to set boundaries and prioritize your needs. Learn to check in with yourself as it gets closer to the event, and give yourself permission to not stay as long or reschedule for a better time. Pay attention to activities that energizer and those that drain.

 

  1. Unplug and Recharge

While technology has its benefits, constant connectivity can take a toll on your mental health. Take breaks from screens and social media to recharge and reconnect with yourself and loved ones. And make this a rule for everyone in the household. Spend an afternoon reading a book, enjoying a picnic with friends, or simply unplugging and embracing the simplicity of the present moment.

 

  1. Prioritize Sleep

With the longer days of summer, it’s easy to fall into the trap of staying up late and sacrificing sleep. However, adequate rest is essential for both physical and mental health. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night and establish a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to unwind and prepare for restorative sleep. You can find out more about creating good sleep habits here.

Summer offers a slower pace, opportunities for vacation and time with friends and opportunities to prioritize self-care and nurture your mental well-being. By connecting with nature, practicing mindfulness, setting boundaries, and prioritizing rest and nourishment, you can make the most of the sunny season while safeguarding your mental health. Remember that self-care is not selfish—it’s essential for your overall well-being and happiness. So, embrace the sun, take care of yourself, and make this summer a season of growth, rejuvenation, and peace.

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