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Guest Article by Dr. Gemma Gladstone
Improve your mental health, even in the Summer months.
While the summer may mean more beautiful weather, more social events, and a more carefree outlook on daily life, the truth is that, for many people, this presumed summer joy isn’t necessarily inherent. This is especially true for the millions who are currently struggling with mental health conditions.
Unfortunately, even the high expectations of needing to savor the summer months can make mental health issues worse as they can drive people to assume that something is wrong with them because they don’t ‘naturally’ feel happier.
To avoid being unnecessarily stressed by such expectations, it is essential to take the necessary steps to care for your mental health throughout the year. To help you out, read on for three strategies for improving your mental health this summer.
1. Prioritize talking regularly to someone.
No matter who you are or where you are in your life, you inevitably have days, weeks, or months when things are more challenging than usual. While the situations may vary, everyone has to deal with stress and problems, which also means that each individual has their own go-to coping mechanism during these times.
No matter how you currently deal with the curve balls that life throws at you, you can undoubtedly benefit from talking with a professional. For starters, plenty of research points to the fact that merely verbalizing feelings can have a vital healing effect on the brain.
Even if what you are currently going through isn’t dramatically life-altering or traumatic, a therapy appointment can aid you in handling your emotions. Plus, you don’t need to wait until things get too overwhelming to deal with before you avail of therapy.
While therapy is known for its unparalleled capacity as a tool for overcoming anxiety, depression, and addiction, regular sessions also work just to establish greater emotional wellness daily. Also, a professional knows what questions need to be asked to help you dissect each problem and then to figure out the best way to resolve it.
That being said, sometimes the most significant issues in your life may be related to those who are closest to you, which is why couples therapy in Sydney (or wherever you reside) is highly recommended.
Although many couples feel nervous about bringing a stranger into their intimate lives, the fact of the matter is that these professionals are accustomed to talking about relationship topics without passing judgment.
2. Learn how to quiet your negative voice.
Most human beings are quite close to the negative voice in their heads. After all, it has most likely been a constant companion for many years. However, this is not an acquaintance that you want to be hanging around all the time or one that you should allow to pop in and out of your life whenever it feels like it. In fact, this is the summer that you need to do something about it as it can manifest as constant outbursts and severely affect your life.
In other words, this summer, you need to work on how to stop self-criticism. This is, of course, easier said than done; however, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t up for the task nor that it is impossible.
It just is going to take a little work and a lot of self-awareness. Nevertheless, given that your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave, it is worthwhile to do what needs to be done to get the negative voice in your head under control.
First and foremost, you are going to need to pay more attention to your thoughts because improving your ability to identify your thought patterns is crucial for comprehending how your thoughts influence your life.
Once you are more aware of the more than 60,000 thoughts you have each day, you will find yourself in a better position to change the flow, examine the evidence concerning the topic, and substitute exaggeratedly negative narratives with more realistic statements.
3. Create gratitude routines and rituals.
While it may seem like a strong statement, there is a good chance that increasing the amount of gratitude in your day-to-day life can significantly transform your daily experience. While various studies have proven the benefit of regular gratitude journaling, the fact that the Dalai Lama does it (and encourages it) may be reason enough.
Generally, the effects of gratitude journaling include an increase in positivity, improved self-esteem, the ability to feel more positive emotions and to savor good experiences, and a better chance of establishing strong relationships. Not to mention, it helps you to learn a lot about yourself, reduces stress, and enables you to focus more clearly on what truly matters in life.
Each evening (or morning, depending on what works best for you), look to write down three things you are grateful for and three things you were able to accomplish that day. The habit itself is easy to form and, over time, you will build up dozens of reasons to be grateful, which can then be reviewed whenever you require a pick-me-up.
Wellness through the seasons
These are three ways to prioritize your mental health and promote emotional healing over the next few months. However, total wellness, especially mental and emotional well being, should be an objective integrated into your day-to-day routine.
Are there challenges that you are still trying to find a way to work through? Mental health is just as important as physical health, so it should be your main priority to look after it as much as possible.
If you have any trouble sharing your thoughts and concerns with even those who are closest to you, reach out to a professional. This way, you can actively resolve your problems with the gentle guidance of a trained expert.
Justine Corry is a clinical psychologist and enjoys helping people get to the heart of what is not working in their lives. Along with Dr. Gemma Gladstone, she is co-director of the Good Mood Clinic in Sydney and has 10 years of experience within private practice.