It’s finally the time that many of us have been waiting for—summer! The days are longer, warmer, and brighter, and we can enjoy more of what the PNW has to offer.
This summer offers us a much more hopeful outlook than the train wreck that was 2020 as the vaccinated population finally approaches a positive tipping point, outdoor dining is booming, and parks are open to visitors. With this rush of energy and excitement, you may also be feeling the pressure of trying to cram two summers into one to make up for lost time.
Though you might have been anticipating this time of year for many months, you may also be feeling a sense of stress and anxiety about this summer living up to your expectations. If you’re worried about this summer passing you by without doing all that you want to jam into it, don’t. There are many ways to enjoy the season without running yourself into the ground.
Keep soaking up that much-needed vitamin D and read on about how to truly be present during your summer experience.
Check-In with Your Goals
Whether you’re new to the Pacific Northwest or are a life-long native, you’ve probably figured out that there are too many activities for one person to accomplish in a few months. We are incredibly fortunate in this state to have ample nature and metro areas available to us, but options can be also overwhelming and can lead to decision paralysis. “If I hike this trail this weekend and the next weekend has bad weather, that means I won’t be able to visit the beach when I want!” This kind of thinking can turn a positive – too many fun things to do – into a negative.
So, instead of trying to do it all, this can be a time to evaluate what is important to you and ensure that you are giving time to that this summer.
After enduring a summer in quarantine, you may want to consider in detail what you have been lacking. For some, this could be spending more time outdoors, focusing on fitness, visiting new restaurants, or reconnecting with vaccinated friends. Think about the things you really want to do, prioritize them, and anything else you can work into your schedule is a bonus!
When you set your priorities, begin to carve out time when this can happen. Matching your desires with reality will take planning and intention. Find out if there are other steps you need to take to turn your goals into action. For example, if spending more time with friends is a goal, having a phone call with a friend to decide on a date or activity would be helpful. If a weekend getaway is important, plan early to lock in the date. Once the more immovable dates are set, you can then plan other activities around them that allow for more flexibility. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a break and doing absolutely nothing.
Reside in the Moment
It’s not uncommon to hear in the same breath someone being excited for summer and then share their dread for the upcoming fall. Though summers can feel short here, this perspective is not very helpful. Thinking about the end of summer takes away from the pleasure that is here now. It can be distracting and take away from current pleasures. Practicing the skill of mindfulness can help you stay present in what this moment is offering and simultaneously accept its transient nature.
Some other distractions are thinking about your future plans while living out your current ones or comparing your summer activities to someone else’s. When this happens, take a moment to breathe and take in your surroundings. Maybe you decided to spend the day hanging out in your yard while your friend is summiting a mountain. That’s okay! Notice the breeze, the smell of the summer weeds, and the colors of the leaves around you. There is so much to be enjoyed in this present moment as long as we stay open to it.
Tips for Maximum Summer Enjoyment
As you plan for your mindful and intentional summer, there may be some areas to consider to make sure you are balancing caring for yourself with your goals. No matter what you hope your summer looks like, here are some tips to get the most out of it:
● Get Moving – After a year of being stagnant, focusing on movement is a great goal. Moving is a wonderful tool for emotional regulation and a way to tune into your body. Whether it is trying a yoga class outdoors, playing sports, or trying paddle boarding for the first time, movement will aid your summer experience.
● Make Time for Rest – You may have a goal to go to as many hikes as possible or have every weekend booked with social engagements, but remember slowing down is just as important. Listen to your body if you need time to recharge or spend a day at home so that you continue to have energy throughout the summer.
● Consider Your Finances – It is tantalizing to make all of these summer plans, but make sure you think about your budget. You may want to take a getaway trip every weekend, but make sure that you can do so comfortably. Your future self will thank you for thinking about this.
● Practice Acceptance – The summer season tantalizes us with the promise of warm, sunny days. In the PNW, however, summer also includes the “June gloom.” The DBT Distress Tolerance skill of “Radical Acceptance” will help you meet the day on the day’s terms rather than harboring irritation. With a back-up plan for gray days you will be more accepting and less likely to feel deprived or resentful.
● Keep a Recovery Mindset – Whether you are going into treatment or are alumni of a program like ours, make sure your mental wellness comes first. Keep the skills you’ve learned in mind as you plan and consider what has worked well in the past. Remember to slow down and seek support if you need it!
THIRA Health is here to help women, girls, & female-aligned individuals learn to cope with their extreme emotions as they start their journey to recovery from the challenges of eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and self-harm. If focusing on your mental health is your goal for this summer, please contact us today. We are available to answer questions about how we can best address your needs, and we hope everyone has a wonderful summer season.