Come summer, we may bask under blue skies, gorge on delicious barbecue and frequent the outdoors, acquiring boosts of vitamin D. However, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can occur in the summer months, too.
Here are summery activities that may reignite innocence and enjoyment:
1. Visit the water. This recent article discusses the healing nature of the ocean. However, if you don’t have easy access to the coastline, pools provide psychological benefits as well. “Swimming elicits a natural, positive response to being in the water,” according to an article on livestrong.com. “Swimming with others in a public pool fosters community spirit and offers an opportunity to meet new friends.”
Therese J. Borchard notes that swimming can have a powerful impact on our mental health in a Psych Central article. “Swimming, for me, seems to zap a bad mood more efficiently than even running,” she said.
Borchard references an article in Swimmer magazine, which relays how swimming can combat depression. Endorphins are released via hard swimming workouts and swimming may even convert “free-floating angst” into muscle relaxation, thwarting off an excess of stress hormones.
“I absolutely believe swimming can serve as a kind of medicine,” Moby Coquillard, a psychotherapist and swimmer, said. “For me, it represents a potent adjunct to antidepressant medications and, for some patients, it’s something you can take in lieu of pills.”
2. Float. I was recently in a pool, allowing the blue water to pass around and through me. I floated on my back, while I created tiny ripples with my hands, willing any tension in my body to vanish. Floating in the water may do wonders for achieving a peaceful state of mind.
3. Go berry picking. June officially marks the start of berry season. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries and blackberries are at their ripest during these hot summer months. Instead of purchasing them at your local grocer, why not set aside a day to pick them yourself? Revel in the farm’s luscious green fields, as you choose the best berries for a refreshing snack or a tasty pie. Yum.
4. Indulge in seafood. Are you looking to expand your palate this summer and dine somewhere new? You can experiment with seafood (the venue doesn’t have to be very expensive, even a “shack” would do) and indulge in lobster rolls with buttery goodness, shrimp, mussels, scallops, clams, and if you’re feeling really adventurous, oysters. For me, seafood usually signifies the summer season, and there’s interesting variety in how the fish is prepared.
5. Attend a street fair or carnival. I tend to romanticize street fairs and carnivals. Perhaps they embody an ambiance that’s youthful and innocent, catering to those who wish to simply have fun. Teenage couples hold hands; bands play music on the sidelines, food trucks feature funnel cakes, fried oreos, gyro sandwiches and meat kebabs; stands contain trinkets and jewelry; quirky games offer stuffed animals as prizes; and rides provide classic entertainment. (I typically long for the Ferris wheel.)
6. Shop at a farmer’s market. According to localharvest.org, farmers markets are one of the “oldest forms of direct marketing by small farmers. From the traditional Peruvian Andes to the unique street markets in Asia, growers all over the world gather weekly to sell their products directly to the public. In the last decade they have become a favorite marketing method for many farmers throughout the United States, and a weekly ritual for many shoppers.”
I love browsing through these markets, ogling fresh produce, fruit, cheese (I usually hover by the sample station), lavender and other goodies.
So grab that sunscreen and take advantage of the summer season; the aforementioned activities may boost your spirits for the better.