With Victoria Day weekend behind us, summer feels closer than ever. We can finally stuff our winter parkas into the backs of our closets and start dressing for style instead of survival against the elements. As a Canadian, I always have an odd feeling this time of year – like I can’t believe I made it through another winter and I can’t believe it’s actually over.
This time of year can be a great opportunity to check in with our mental health, as the grueling winter months can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder and exacerbate feelings of loneliness. As someone who has struggled with social anxiety for as long as I can remember, the winter is a particularly hard time for me. That’s why as the seasons change I try and make up for lost time and embrace all the mental health boosts that summer has to offer!
Get active outside
I am someone who doesn’t like working out day after day in a dark gym. I get easily bored with my routine, and am hyper aware that I am exercising for the sake of exercising. My favourite part of summer is being able to play sports and be active out in the sunshine. Personally, I am a tennis player, and there is no better mood boost than getting out on the court and playing a fun game with a few of my friends. This is also a great opportunity for me to be social in a setting that I’m super comfortable in. There are plenty of recreational sports leagues that pop up around the city, which is a wonderful way to meet new people through a shared interest.
Joining a summer sports league can be a great way to meet people in a low pressure setting.
Summer is also a great chance to create new fitness goals and follow through on them. It’s hard to train for a 10km race in the dead of winter. Waking up to pitch black skies is never an easy feat. However, there is something really special about going for a run at sunrise on a summer day before the heat has set in. The endorphin boost that you’ll get can change your outlook on the rest of your day.
Embrace your local farmer’s market
Another highlight of the summer season is getting to eat fresher food! Living in a northern region can mean eating packaged, imported produce for many months a year. I can’t tell you the struggle that I have finding a half decent tomato from January to May in Montreal.
That’s why I relish being able to go to a farmer’s market and knowing exactly where my fruits and vegetables have come from. I find myself wanting to be adventurous and cook something new. As Anna wrote recently in her wonderful blog, cooking can be a great way to increase mindfulness and connect with others. Challenge yourself to head over to a market, pick up fresh ingredients, and try your hand at making a recipe.
Seek out mindful summer activities
One of my favourite sights in the summer months is a weekly yoga class that happens on the Lachine Canal in Montreal. I think there is something incredibly peaceful about committing to a mindful activity outside, breathing in the fresh air and reuniting with nature.
Our worlds can be so consumed by work, technology, and stress that we forget to let it all go every once in a while. I try and make an effort to reconnect with nature by hiking through the woods or going for a swim in a quiet lake. It’s great to remind ourselves of the colours, scents, and sounds of our natural world that we miss in the cold, grey winter months.
Be open to healing
I think that the key to benefiting from a summer mood boost is being aware that you need one. Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we’ve been down or irritable, so check in with yourself and be open to healing. Find activities that you enjoy and commit to doing them regularly. Nourish your body with fresh foods that you love. Find something that makes you feel at peace in your own skin. Sometimes simply watching the stars on a clear night can fill you with gratitude for your life. Summer is coming – embrace it.
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