July 24th is International Self-Care Day, a day to nurture yourself and respect your needs. Any activity we intentionally do to care for our physical, mental, and emotional health is self-care. When you practice meaningful self-care, you can avoid burnout, reduce anxiety, improve your mood, and ensure you have the mental space to be there for others when they need you.
Self-care can take many forms and doesn’t need to be complicated. Simple activities like going for a walk, listening to music, or reading a book can help you relax and recharge. Making time for self-care is essential for your overall well-being, but remember, self-care is not simply self-indulgence. To learn more about meaningful self-care, check out “How to Create Your Own Personalized Self-Care Plan.’
Self-Care Tips for Summer
While many of us look forward to summer each year, the season can come with its own challenges that affect our mental health. Heat waves, allergens, summer vacations, routine changes, and extra daylight can be disruptive and even lead to depression. You can learn more about “Reverse SAD” in our Spring Self-Care blog.
Here are some suggestions for summertime self-care for those struggling with summertime blues, or for those just looking to take advantage of the season!
Take it Outside
While not everyone is a ‘nature lover’, we all can benefit from time spent in the fresh air and natural light. Vitamin D gained from exposure to sunlight plays an important role in regulating mood and can alleviate some depression symptoms. Additionally, increasing oxygen intake by getting some fresh air can kick start your body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to happiness.
This summer, spend more time outdoors. Have your lunch break outside, go for walks or runs in the park, take a day trip to the mountains, or go on a picnic! Find ways to be outside that are enjoyable for you. And for those who struggle with summertime allergies, even spending time inside next to large windows can be beneficial. Perhaps your local library has a sunroom where you can sit and read. Enjoying nature and getting your fill of sunlight looks different for everyone, but it benefits us all!
Eat fresh food! Your brain requires vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants to regulate your mood. This is why primarily eating highly processed foods is linked to depression and anxiety.
Take advantage of the season by purchasing or growing fresh produce. If you have the space, you can grow your own little garden, or take part in a local community garden. Don’t have much of a green thumb? Check out the local farmer’s market! Besides the health and economic benefits of buying local, adding a short jaunt down to the weekly farmer’s market to your routine can make your errands feel a little more special.
Stay Cool and Hydrated
Summer heat can take a physical and emotional toll. The heat can make us irritable which can affect how we interact with others. It’s important to stay cool and well-hydrated. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are serious conditions that can happen quickly. When spending any amount of time outside, it is wise to bring water to hydrate and always be mindful of the temperature.
Remember to bring sunscreen! Not only are sunburns painful, but they also further dehydrate the body, leaving you more at risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Wear Clothes that Fit
Wearing clothes that fit can go a long way in making your summer an enjoyable experience. Many people feel pressured to look a specific way or be a specific weight, especially when summer arrives and some of our layers come off. It’s important to buy clothes that fit you, instead of regulating your habits so you can fit into your clothes, to avoid heat stroke or exhaustion. Invest in clothes you’re comfortable in and you’ll find your summer much more pleasurable!
Staycations & Rest
Have you ever heard “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation”? Sometimes, going on a big vacation can cause more stress than it alleviates. This summer, consider going on small outings in your own province instead of planning a big vacation. By taking advantage of the fun events and activities in your community, you can make every weekend special without the stress and financial strain of travel.
Don’t forget to leave space in your summer plans for “lazy days”. Because summer is such a short season in Alberta, we often feel pressured to make the most of it, but being too busy isn’t enjoyable and doesn’t give you space for self-care.
Summer can be stressful! Whether you love or hate the heat, there can be a lot of pressure to make the most of this season. Remember, self-care is about taking care of yourself, not getting caught up in the “shoulds“. Only use the ideas on this list that help you. The goal is to create a self-care routine that helps you find enjoyment and enrichment this summer.