By Darren Carter
Village EAP Counselor
After a long, harsh winter, let’s warmly welcome June! Summer provides us several opportunities to practice good mental health. Here are some tips to improve your mental health and make the most of this summer:
- Get outdoors: Exposure to the sun is the most natural form of vitamin D. If we get too little of it, it can lead to symptoms of depression. Being outdoors decreases anxiety and increases the production of serotonin levels in our body, a neurotransmitter linked to the experience of pleasure. What are some activities you enjoy doing outside?
- Exercise: Being active for 30 minutes a day has been shown to have significant benefits to our physical and mental health. Going for a walk or a run would be a great way to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. Others may prefer a sport or a bicycle ride. What type of exercise would motivate you to enjoy the outdoors this summer?
- Plan a vacation: Vacations can mean many different things to people. The important thing is to plan a getaway, whether it’s for a couple weeks or a weekend. Vacations offer an opportunity for us to spend some time on self-care and relationships. They give us an opportunity to take a break from the daily routines we’ve established at work and home to explore and enjoy the world. Do you have a favorite vacation spot? Or would you like to plan a vacation to somewhere new? This summer could be a great time to make it happen.
- Set a personal goal: New Year’s is not the only time to set goals. If you are like most, you may not have stuck to the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. If you didn’t set a goal, now would be an excellent time to invest in yourself. Working toward goals gives us a sense of focus and accomplishment. Are there any personal goals you would like to strive for this summer?
- Invest more time and energy into relationships: In my neighborhood, I hardly saw any of my neighbors during the winter. As soon as the snow started melting and it became warmer, all of my neighbors are outside walking, mowing the lawn, socializing, etc. We have a tendency to have more energy in the summer, and one way to increase mood is to invest some of that energy into relationships. Building relationships with our neighbors, friends, and family increases our sense of belongingness and enhances our well-being. Which relationships would you like to invest in this summer?
- Take time for reflection, prayer, or meditation: There are few things more beautiful than a North Dakota and Minnesota sunset on a summer night. Sunsets offer a great opportunity for us to spend some time in reflection or spiritual thought. If sunsets aren’t your thing, are there other times throughout the day where you can unplug and practice spirituality?