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Nurturing Your Mental Health This Summer - Amend Treatment

Nurturing Your Mental Health This Summer

This summer is the perfect time to recharge, reconnect, and rejuvenate in nature. Soak in the sun and enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors. A breath of fresh air and a little vitamin D can go a long way, both physically and mentally. But taking advantage of the summer air is easier said than done.


How Depression Can Affect Your Summer

Motivating yourself – let alone someone else – can be a real challenge. But it’s often made much harder through conditions like depression. A defining characteristic in mood disorders like major depressive disorder or dysthymia is the recurring feeling of anhedonia or a lack of joy.


It’s not just a form of neutral unhappiness, or grief and sorrow; in many cases, it’s the inability to reach a happier state of mind, sometimes for days, sometimes for months. When there’s no joy to be felt in anything, no sense of fulfillment, then negative thoughts – such as, “Why bother” – take over.


That sort of feeling can deprioritize many things and obliterate a person’s ability to motivate themselves to get out of bed, let alone spend time outdoors.


Suppose you’re working with a loved one’s depression or trying to find better ways to cope with your own feelings this summer. In that case, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s okay and typical for this to be difficult – and that you can be proud of every single step in the right direction.


The Benefits of Outdoor Therapy and Nature

Why bother with the outdoors, anyway? Therapeutically, there is a piling mountain of evidence speaking in favor of helping people connect with nature in their own surroundings, whether it’s taking a stroll through the park, a swim at the beach, or a hike. Some clinics even offer specialized outdoor therapies, wherein a therapist and a client or a group hold a session while walking together in a calm and natural environment, or during a leisurely activity.


In some countries, studies into certain outdoor therapies have shown that being immersed in the habitats of various trees, birds, and plant life can expose individuals to sounds and smells that, in certain cases, even help bolster the immune system, in addition to decreasing hormonal stress levels, improving quality of sleep, and lowering anxiety.


It doesn’t mean a walk through the park or a weekend at the beach is a panacea for mental and physical health problems, or a substitute for intensive talk therapy when needed. However, there are certain benefits to incorporating more outdoor activities in your day-to-day life, especially if you have a higher risk of struggling with depressive symptoms or have a history of depressive episodes.


Tips for Getting Up and Out

First and foremost – if you’re typically an indoor person or are forced by circumstance to spend most of your time in urban settings, then it’s normal to struggle to find the right time or place to reconnect with nature or spend time outdoors.


It’s important to know that you don’t need to go straight into the woods to benefit from spending more time outside. Taking a conscious step outside of your usual comfort zones and finding other places that you might find relaxing or calming – such as the farmer’s market, outdoor art exhibits, or an open-air library – can be immensely rewarding, and a good use of your time this summer.


Secondly, it’s okay if you feel like you need a little help. Enlist a friend or family member to go with you. In many cases, spending more time outside can be a great way to spend more time with other people, as well. You might want to:


Explore the Great Outdoors

Go for hikes, bike rides, or picnics in the park to uplift your mood and enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. Grab a map or an app and find any place you haven’t been to yet. Pack plenty of water and some snacks, and go on a little adventure.


Engage in Physical Activities

Stay active and incorporate physical exercises that you enjoy into your summer routine. You don’t have to hit the gym or become a weekend warrior at the nearest CrossFit box. Dance, swim, take a longer bike route home after work, or try something completely outside your usual experience.


Attend Community Events

Check out local festivals, farmers’ markets, or outdoor concerts happening in your area. You don’t have to run into the woods or focus solely on finding reclusive spots in nature. Engaging your community over the summer months can be beneficial for your mental health.


Plan Social Gatherings

Organize get-togethers with friends and loved ones. Host a BBQ, plan a beach day, or simply meet up for a walk in the park. Keeping your social connections alive is vital for maintaining good mental health.


Try Something New

Try a new hobby or activity, especially outdoors. Rent a stand-up paddleboard or take an outdoor photography class. Exploring new interests can bring a sense of fulfillment and joy.


Take Different Kinds of Breaks

If you’re stuck in a monotonous rut, finding ways to break a negative routine can help with your mental health, as well. Practice mindfulness in new ways – like spending your lunch breaks outside rather than at your desk or in the cafeteria, or taking outdoor seats rather than indoor seats at cafes and restaurants.


Disconnect from Technology

A little less screen time may go a long way toward helping you reduce stress, especially if it helps you focus on the here and now instead. More importantly, being mindful of your relationship with technology can help you improve your sleeping and resting habits, as well.


Plan a Summer Getaway

Consider going on a vacation or planning a weekend getaway. You don’t need plane tickets to enjoy a getaway in the summer. Plan a road trip with some friends, pool your resources for a better budget, and focus on dream destinations just a few hours away.


Volunteer or Give Back

Find opportunities to contribute to your community or a cause that you are passionate about.

Prioritize Your Self-Care

Last but not least, remember that getting up and out more often this summer is ultimately about picking up better stress management and coping skills, and taking positive breaks for your mental health.


Building Better Habits Together

There is nothing wrong with preferring a little less company or spending most of your time indoors. But there is a lot to be gained from taking a little advantage of the good weather, even if you want to do so alone.


Serious depressive symptoms and mood disorders can be debilitating. Spending a little more time outdoors and among people can help, but treatment matters first and foremost. If you aren’t sure where to start, give us a call at Amend Treatment at (833) 912-6363. We can help you figure out the next steps in your journey – as well as help you make the most of this summer.

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