Summer is upon us! The sun is out, the grass is green, not a worry in the world…right? For many people struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression, this is not the case; millions of people actually suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the summer. According to The Providence Center’s Director of Care Integration Allison Bernier, everyone responds to stress differently. “There’s no ‘norm’ for when people experience stress or mental illness, just as there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution,” said Bernier. “But if you feel like the stress in your life is out of control, it’s time to make changes.”
Whether you’re struggling with mental health, or it’s just a stressful period in your life, here are 7 activities that can help you take advantage of the season while taking care of your mind:
1. Picnic.What better way to brighten your day than to take your lunch outdoors to breathe in the fresh air and soak up the sunshine! Studies suggest that vitamin D can help symptoms of depression, and picnics are a great way to bring people together and connect through some friendly small talk.
2. Go Fishing. Spending a day on the water and interacting with nature breaks you out of your stressful, everyday routine. When your only worry is whether or not you will catch that trout, your mind is set free and any weight on your shoulders is lifted. Mastering an outdoor skill that will last you a lifetime may also boost your self-esteem.
3. Go for a Stroll.Walking for just 30 minutes can relax the mind and boost your mood. With every step you take, your body releases natural pain-killing endorphins that help reduce your stress level. “Regular exercise, even if it’s for a short duration of time, can have a large impact on depression and anxiety,” said Bernier.
4. Take a Dip.Similar to walking, swimming releases endorphins which decrease symptoms related to anxiety and depression. After a long day, swimming can renew your energy and improve your overall attitude. It is a natural outlet for built-up stress and tension. If you can make it to the beach-even better! The sand and rhythmic sound of the waves put your mind in a calm, meditative state.
5. Try Outdoor Yoga.Yoga is proven to relax your system, release tension, increase focus and improve symptoms of depression. By decreasing your blood pressure and increasing your serotonin levels, yoga is extremely calming and can leave you feeling happier. Taking the practice outdoors on a quiet, summer morning can make it all the more relaxing.
6. Break out the Bike.In addition to its many health benefits, such as increased muscle strength and decreased body fat, biking makes for a healthy mind. Cardio exercise can boost your self-confidence and lower the effects of anxiety and depression. Get those pedals and your heart pumping!
7. Work in the Garden.Get outdoors and plant some seeds! Gardening is the perfect way to spend time in nature while contributing to its beauty all at once. This therapeutic activity can ease stress and improve your mood.