We often associate summer with that beach-ready, care-free, happy feeling.
But that isn’t always the case for everyone.
Summer can be a particularly difficult time of year for lots of different people for a list of reasons.
We might see a lot of campaigns about how to keep yourself feeling brighter in the darker months of the year, but it’s not often that we hear about how to look after our mental health in the summer.
It’s important to talk about how we can keep ourselves safe and healthy during the summer period, and to raise some awareness of some of the ways that our mental health can dip in the hotter months of the year.
It’s important to notice that ‘mental health’ means something different to ‘mental illness’ or mental ill health.
Whilst everyone has mental health (which can range from being steady and positive, or a bit more difficult) not everyone has a mental illness, as that is when we experience symptoms that could be diagnosed as part of a condition by a specialist.
That being said – we can all experience poor or low mental health at times.
That means its very important to identify the things that can have an impact on our mood (ether in positive or negative ways) so we can try and keep things on track.
Mental Health Conditions: Two Common Experiences
Two of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions are anxiety and depression.
The mental health charity Mind report that 1 in 4 people (that’s a quarter of the population) report that they experience issues with their mental health.
It can also generally cause financial strain, as we may feel that we either need to spend beyond our means to have a ‘good summer’, or may feel upset when we are unable to source the cash for lavish holidays, parties or trips that we see other people having.
Some people call this ‘summer fomo (fear of missing out)’.
Another summer anxiety is related to body image.
Lots of media sources will begin talking about how to get ourselves ‘summer ready’.
This can be very distressing for lots of people, and particularly risky for those who struggle with body image and low self-esteem.
Change in Appetite
Our appetites in summer can change for several reasons.
Some of us just find that we’re not as hungry when it’s hot, and find it harder to eat or even to prepare meals or ourselves.
Others might consciously try to eat less during summer to follow a new diet or lifestyle change.
To reduce this anxiety and still ensure your child gets to socialise, you could arrange play dates with other parents, or host your child’s friends at your house to give them a safe space to get together.
Some people also use tips such as reducing screen time by limiting access to phones and tablets can help children that could be struggling with comparing their summer to their peers, and allow them to have some time spend in the moment.
How To Reduce the Amount of Alcohol you Drink in the Summer
The recommended units of alcohol that a typical adult should drink is 14.
Exceeding these 14 units, or drinking heavily several or most days in the week will mean that your intake is risking becoming too high.
14 units might be around 6 pints of beer, or 10 small glasses of wine.
In summer, the amount that people drink increases.
Studies show that although December is the month where Brits tend to drink the most, we typically enjoy the most alcoholic drinks during the summer period.
This can be because we’re relaxing on holiday, because the weather is pleasant and we can spend time in our gardens or in beer gardens, or because we’re enjoying time off and relaxing with our friends.
The popularity of all inclusive holidays can also lead to increased alcohol consumption, as the temptation to get our money’s worth by drinking more can lead to regular bing e-drinking.
British holiday makers have earned a reputation for this ‘party hard’ mentality.
Know the Risks
While the idea of going out and letting our hair down by drinking in large volumes can be enticing, it can also lead to a risk of dangers, such as:
Hospitalisation due to alcohol-related illness
Increased risk of accidents in or around pools, cliffs, or other parts of the summer landscape frequented in the summer months
This can due to a range of health complications, including severe dehydration, alcohol mixing with prescription medications or interacting badly with other drugs, liver and kidney issues, accidents, and even from blackouts.
If you feel you have a serious issue with alcohol, then consult one of the excellent alcohol rehab providers in Sussex, such as Rehab Recovery and Change Grow Live.
Alcohol-Free Ways to Unwind
It’s tricky to say no to alcohol when it feels like such a tempting treat.
The idea of a cold beer, glass of wine or a fruity cocktail at the end of a long day, for most people, sounds like the perfect way to unwind.
There’s nothing wrong with doing this from time to time, but drinking every evening could lead to health complications, and could potentially be having negative effects on your mental health.
But, there are many other ways we can decompress without drinking.
Finding sober activities can be helpful for several reasons-
Because they help decrease your alcohol intake
Because they may help sober friends and family members feel included
Because it gets us thinking more creatively about different ways we can spend our time
Some examples of ways to unwind without alcohol you might like to try include:
Set up a new evening routine you can look forward to at the end of the work day
Keep on top of your home, so it feels like a cosy and relaxing space to come home to
Having a ‘mocktail’ night with your friends
Having a themed evening, such as ‘bring a board’
Cooking something from scratch, like pizzas, or trying out a new recipe
Reading something for yourself (something not work related, such as a novel)
Limiting your screen time in evening
Swap out alcohol for the occasional sweet treat
Find a method of exercise that makes you feel good
Find a new hobby that you’ve never tried before – either solo, or with a friend
Everyone’s ways to unwind will look different, and there’s no right or wrong way of doing it.
As long as your activity helps you to feel good and isn’t harming yourself or others, then however you choose to relax is a matter of personal choice.
Finding healthy coping mechanisms instead of drinking can decrease your risk of falling back into heavy drinking behaviour, or switching the drinking for another risky activity.
Top Things to do in the Summer to Protect Your Mental Health
Summer for many people conjures images of barbeques, cold pints, beaches and late evenings out with friends.
When we’re so busy, it can be really tricky to find the time to plan activities.
This means we can get stuck in the same cycles, doing the same things, which can often be bad for our mental health.
Adding a bit of variety can help diversify your summer, and help us feel that we’re doing something a little exciting and special.
That excitement can be a very handy tool in helping us get motivated and pushing past those sluggish feelings that can come with low mood and anxiety to try something new.
Finding a new activity and having a scheduled plan can help us to both protect our mental health and fill our days with fun.
Here’s a list of popular activities that you could engage with during the summer:
Going to the beach
Connecting with friends & family
Using the 1-2-3 self-care rule (sticking to the basics, planning self-care into your schedule, saying no to things that may not be helpful for you)
Maintaining a health sleep schedule
Protect yourself from the sun
Drink enough water & stay hydrated
Choosing 2-3 of these activities every Sunday to try and complete the following week can be an excellent way of making sure that you take care of yourself and focus on self-care this summer.
Things to do in East Sussex and West Sussex this Summer
South East England is a wonderful; part of the country.
East and West Sussex have a wide range of places you can visit and things you can do during the summer, right on your doorstep.
Often when we live somewhere we can forget how great it is, and think that visiting places is just for tourists. But in East and West Sussex there are a range of places and attractions you can visit as a local.
With a range of castles and historic houses, zoos, galleries, gardens, theme parks and beautiful landscapes, in Sussex, there’s something for everyone.
National Trust Sites
You could visit the range of National Trust sites in East and West Sussex, including: