Summer can feel like an eternity and like the blink of an eye all at once. The long sunny days and endless activities can bring a sense of joy and comfort. Many folks take a break of some kind in the summer, whether it’s a vacation or just reducing hours before school starts again. While it can be a great chance to reset and rest, but for some people, it also means a change from a typical mental health routine.
Finding a routine that helps can be key. You’ve probably tried a few different approaches before landing on the routine that works best for you. Managing mental health can often be a process of trial and error to find what will work in your particular situation. So what are you to do when your routine changes?
Here are some tips to help you maintain your mental health, no matter where you are.
Make a plan with your therapist
If you currently have a therapist, reach out if needed. Your therapist can help you make a plan for how to manage your mental health. You can discuss everything from what to do in an emergency to how to manage in different situations you might encounter. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel that you can handle anything that comes your way.
Sometimes the act of just writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you feel better about things. You don’t have to write anything profound in a journal, either. It’s just for you, however, you need it. You can make lists if writing isn’t your forte or even just doodle. The idea of this is to help you organize and process your thoughts to the best of your ability, and writing them down helps you see them in a new way.
Check-in with people
One reason changes can be hard is that you probably don’t have the same access to your support network in the same way. Your friends and family may be traveling or living somewhere else. If that is the case, make sure to have a plan for how to keep in touch. Have regularly scheduled phone calls or get-togethers with someone who understands you.
Try a new hobby
A new hobby or activity can be great too. If there’s been something you’ve been meaning to try, now is a perfect time. It will give you something new to focus on and put your energy toward. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a distraction from your circumstances, but everyone needs an escape. Experiment a little and find yours.
Set realistic goals + know your limits
You only have to find what works for you at this moment. You are allowed to have and enforce boundaries, so if something isn’t your cup of tea, don’t be afraid to say it.
Have a go-to list of things that help in a crisis
When something happens (an anxiety attack, a depressive episode, etc.), make sure you have a step by step plan you can follow. Sometimes when you’re in distress, thinking clearly isn’t an option so it can be hard to figure out the steps you need to take to deal with the situation. You can practice with scenarios from your past, and write down how you got through it so you can follow the process if it comes up.
Consider online therapy
You may want to continue meeting with your regular therapist via online therapy, even if you’re in a different location. Check with your therapist to see if this is a service they offer, and what the limitations are. (They may only be permitted to provide online therapy if you are in the same state, for example.) It is an option that offers convenience and comfort and it allows people more freedom in their day to day lives while still receiving therapy.
A change from your typical mental health routine doesn’t have to be scary. You can use the time to rest or to try some new activities. Just remember to have a plan in place and make sure you have people you can talk to if needed.
Angela Weixel, MSW, LISW
Angela is a clinician and Assistant Director of Clinical Wellness and Services at Holistic Consultation. Angela has been with us for over 5 years and is a yoga instructor, a certified dancing mindfulness facilitator and also facilitates our group therapy offerings – Mindful Mondays, Thrive, Building Balance & Holistic Connections,
Below are Angela’s staff recommendations.
I’m Fine…And Other Lies by Whitney Cummings
This memoir by comedian Whitney Cummings is funny, awkward, and honest. She describes a lifetime of living with anxiety and co-dependency disorder and the work she’s done to manage them with wit and humor.
This book is a relatable and easy read, so if you’re interested in her story of working through her mental health issues, pick it up.
This memoir by Rachel Hollis asks an essential question: “Am I the only person who has no idea what they’re doing?!” Rachel Hollis expands on the lies and misunderstandings that held her back in life and how she moved past them to get where she is today.
If you’re looking for some motivation for a passionate life, check it out.