National Eating Disorders Association
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9 Ways to Keep Up Your Summer Self-Care

Emma Giordano and Kira Rakova

When people think of summer, certain words may come to mind, such as “sun,” “heat,” “beach,” “relax,” or “vacation.” While many of these words may be positive, that doesn’t mean that we can’t feel stressed or overwhelmed by the change of seasons! We’ve compiled a list of things to do or keep in mind to help you navigate the rest of this summer with A+ self-care.

Create plans and structure.

For many of us, our schedules become much more flexible and open during the summer. On one hand, this freedom can be wonderful! Having fewer things to do usually means less stress and more time for self-care.

However, certain people can find the lack of a structured week difficult, as it can lead to isolation, boredom, and may trigger certain mental health-related issues. Therefore, it may be wise to add a little bit of structure or regular plans into your schedule. For instance, you might want to volunteer once a week or join a monthly book club. These activities can help you feel more stable and give you something to look forward to. 

Indulge in a hobby! 

During the summer season, it’s easy to get lost in the midst of parties, vacations, plans, etc. A lot of times, you may want to get home from busy days and just do NOTHING, which is totally okay, too! But to prevent yourself from being totally maxed out and sluggish on your down time, make time for one of your hobbies! Whether it is an activity you’ve always loved or something new you’d like to give a chance this summer, having an interest to take part in can help keep you relaxed and grounded through otherwise exhausting times. 

Make time for yourself.

On the flip side, summer can also become overwhelmingly busy. With the warm weather and many people going on holiday, there is likely to be many meet-ups and re-connections happening. Time with friends and family can be absolutely wonderful, but also exhausting and, for those with mental health issues, triggering. So, remember to set boundaries and find time for yourself as well. Remember that saying no is not selfish, but a form of self-care! 

Stay fresh!

Though hygiene is part of most people’s daily routine, making an effort to keep yourself and your space clean can be very refreshing. Warm showers and baths, freshly-washed hair, and clean teeth can make you feel really good, whether it’s before a summer adventure or after a day in the sun. Additionally, don’t let your space fall behind on days spent away at the beach! Coming home to clutter and mess can really dampen your mindset, so try to make time for some “summer cleaning.” Even just a bed made every morning can help you feel more put together and ready for the day.

Carry the essentials on you!

No one likes the feeling of their needs not being met. Pack a small summer to-go bag so you’re ready for all situations! Having things like sunscreen, sunglasses, water bottles, snacks, gum/mints, spare cash, and Band-Aids at the ready  will allow you to feel more prepared when leaving the house. Knowing you’re all set for any potential obstacles, no matter how small, can really put you in a positive mindset to tackle the day!

Keep a diary or a notebook.

As cliché as it sounds, a diary or a notebook, where you can reflect on the summer, can be really helpful in making sure your summer is balanced and fun. Of course, daily, rigorous diary keeping is not for everyone, but having a notebook available to collect your thoughts and feelings about the summer may be an excellent way to practice self-care. Perhaps you can use it to document personal growth – the ways you have challenged your own boundaries or things you have accomplished. Or maybe it can be a place to write down tips for your future self and self-care. However you use it, it can be an excellent way to check-in and see how you are doing and what you may need to this summer. 

Unplug!

For those of us caught in the age of social media, we sometimes can be so consumed by all the internet has to offer, that it can become unhealthy. Many of us may flock to certain websites and online communities for comfort, but it can be really beneficial to spend at least a little time offline. In a sea of online drama, celebrity gossip, politics, and trolls, putting down the phone and turning off the computer, even just for a few hours, can help you weed out toxic influences that may make your summer more stressful.

Keep lists handy.

In all the freedom of the nice weather, things may be changing pace for you! You may be going on day trips you don’t normally take, or using your free time to pick up leisure activities you can’t often do during the school semester or heavy work seasons. While our minds are focused on these new, exciting things, they can easily take over our brains, leaving us a little frazzled. Having a little notepad on you or keeping one in a frequently-visited location at home to jot essentials down can help you feel more organized and ready for the day! Some ideas you may want to keep in mind are: “What do I need  to take with me when I leave the house today?” “What do I need to do when I get home?” “What do I want to accomplish today?” “What are some appointments/obligations I have to remember this week?” By tidying up all the information you need to keep in your mind, you’ll surely enjoy the rest of the summer with a clearer head.

Remember your coping strategies!

While you’re out and about, enjoying all summer has to offer, it can be easy to get overwhelmed at a moment’s notice. Make sure you have accessible coping strategies and resources to help you through the unexpected rough moments. Whether that means keeping an important object nearby (maybe a book, a journal, headphones, etc.) or having a loved one on speed dial, you always have options, so don’t be afraid to use them! Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and a weight can be lifted off your shoulders just knowing you have the ability to reach out.