We’re becoming increasingly aware of the winter blues and just how harmful it can be. We know that with lower levels of vitamin D reaching us in the darker months, we’re more likely to be tired and feel deflated. So, every year we welcome back the sun and we flock to the beach and the beer gardens to celebrate and soak up those rays.
We’re feeling the warmer weather creep in now and the classic signs of summer - festivals, beach afternoons, garden BBQs and all those summer anthems, are returning and the call of the outdoors resonates. Summer in the UK is a special time, not least because we never know how long it will stay for. Yet, with this, it can bring pressure. A duty to be outside constantly, a social butterfly and an energetic parent.
Having such a love affair with the summer, as a nation especially, can make us feel as if there’s something wrong with us if we’re not always feeling the urge to join in. Some say it’s difficult to be sad in the summertime, but we’re not sure that this is so much to do with the weather. Rather, there is an expectation to be out and bright and enjoying yourself all the time and therefore it’s potentially more difficult to admit if you’re not feeling those social summer vibes all the time.
A little sun is not a replacement for self-care and for being guided by what you need and what not is ‘expected’. So, since we’re big on the advice for well-being tips in winter, we thought we’d share our tips on staying positive in the summertime.
Occasional Summertime Rebellion
Every now and then, be a real rebel and go home. Yes, staying in when the sun is out or going home early for a bubble bath is sometimes the most radical thing you can do. As we’re never sure how long summer days will hang around there’s a real pressure to ignore whatever you’re feeling or whatever your plans are, and stay outside. Although sometimes it’s good when we’re encouraged out of our comfort zones or to let loose a little, we can do it too much in summer.
Don’t be a victim of fear of missing out or of peer pressure if you’re not in the right mood to ‘make the most of’ the sunny day or evening. Better to conserve energy, take time out when you need to, and return in sparkling and radiant full form when you're rested and ready.
A Few Early Nights
Following on from the guilt-free staying in, it’s also important not to ignore your body clock because it’s summer. Naturally, we’ll stay up later and hopefully have some really late nights out that will create some lasting memories. However, not every night is going to do so, so don’t try to force it.
For parents, getting to bed early, even in the warmer months is not usually a challenge. Parents of young children will usually sleep anywhere at any time,
given half the chance. It’s getting the kids to bed that’s the issue, especially in summer. They’ll never feel they have a reasonable explanation for why it’s still light out, no matter how many times you explain how the seasons work. Also, we do tend to get a bit over-excited the first week or two of good weather - that’s the parents more so than the kids - and stay at BBQs and the beach past bedtime.
As much of a challenge as it can be, children do still need the same amount of sleep in summer as they do in winter. Especially as they may be woken up earlier because of the light. So try to keep to a routine with the exception maybe of the weekends or the odd night or two. It might even be an idea to bring going up to bed forward a little as it can take longer to drift off to sleep when it’s warmer. It’s not just that children can be more emotionally fragile when they haven’t had enough sleep, if we don’t get enough child-free time in the evening it can all get a bit much too. School summer holidays are long and as much as we may approach them with optimism, there’s no way we can maintain positivity from 6 am to 11 pm all day long for 6 weeks.
You and the kids will have a much better summer with far fewer meltdowns (for all of you) if you all make sure you get a few early nights.
Plenty Of Water
I’m aware I now really sound like a mum but I’m going to say it anyway - drink plenty of water in summer. Staying hydrated will keep your energy up and lessen the chances of getting sunstroke or headaches.
In the summer months, we lose more fluids and so it’s important to replace them. Water keeps our bodies working, stops our skin from drying out and sharpens the mind too. When we’re not properly hydrated thoughts get foggy which can be frustrating and can leave us feeling lethargic. Loss of energy can bring us down emotionally and make staying positive in summer a challenge. So getting enough water is not just about staying physically well, it’s also about maintaining mental clarity and energy.
Lots Of Nature
The one major thing summer offers, which is worth getting in huge sandcastle spades, is the opportunity to get out in nature. Whether you’re a summertime sea paddler, a picnic in the park lover, a beach volleyballer or are running up
hills like Maria Von Trapp, the world looks beautiful bathed in sunlight. Plus it’s far more pleasant to be outside when it doesn't feel as if the weather is designed to attack us.
Being outside is so good for our well-being, especially when we’re in a natural environment. Not only are we getting some much-needed vitamin D, but it’s also been found to help us breathe better, lower blood pressure, reduce stress and lift our mood. Something about being out in nature gives us perspective and serves to remind us how big, bold and beautiful the world is.
With longer days, it’s easier to get your daily fresh air so even if it’s just a walk around at the end of work for half an hour, it will do you so much good. We’re not all blessed with nature reserves or the coastline within walking distance but even spending some time in the garden or taking a walk around the local park can blow the cobwebs out and put problems in perspective.
Huge Amounts Of Good Vibes
Summertime is a great time to read and feed your mind with positivity. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with all the bad news that’s circulating make sure you choose some media to consume that has a chance of lifting your spirits.
We’re big fans of Matt Haig’s book The Midlight Library here. There are some great non-fiction books like Human Kind by Rutger Bregman which is described as ‘a hopeful history’ on the basic goodness of our species and Brene Brown’s books are deep dives into our emotions and vulnerabilities but in a beautifully freeing way.
Keeping a diary can also be a great way to focus your mind more on positive thoughts and gratitude. We love The Positive Journal which provides a simple guided way to explore your day-to-day life with a more balanced view, accepting the struggles but acknowledging the good in every day.
Make Memories Not Plans (but some plans too)
If you’re a parent then you’ll likely have the kids off for a few weeks during the summer. It’s a pleasure of course, but it can also be daunting. Even if you’re not also faced with juggling work, the pressure to keep them busy and entertained, but also not spending too much time on screens, can be exhausting. There is no perfect way to manage but I have found that most often it’s the simple things that create the best memories. Those spontaneous drawing sessions at the kitchen table, planting in the garden, dancing around to pop songs and evenings spent curled up on the sofa scoffing snacks in front of a Disney film.
It’s a good idea to plan a few days out of course, but remember that it’s spending time with you that’s most important to the kids - even if they don’t know it yet. If you overload yourself with packed schedules then chances are they won’t be getting you at your best so try to reserve some days for creative play, board games, lounging around or just being silly together.
Even if you don’t have children at home, there can be a lot going on in summer. When turning up at events or meet-ups starts to feel like a chore, it’s often a sign that some ‘you’ time is needed. Friendships and family are so very important, but so is the relationship you have with yourself and it’s not possible to be a social butterfly all the time, even when the weather suggests so.
Spend Your Summer Mindfully
There are no rules to follow when the sun comes out - except wear sunscreen and be careful in the sea - so there's no perfect plan to have a summertime worthy of a coming of age film. However, if you continue to make time and quiet to listen to yourself, be present in your body and ask yourself what you need, you'll likely have a summer that enhances your wellbeing. Enjoy the sun, enjoy the socialising and enjoy any extra family time you might get, but make time for yourself too and make sure the summertime is serving your needs as well.