My earliest memories of summer include fond recollections of making forts with my friends, swimming every day in our pool and chasing the ice cream truck down the street. We were little maniacs when it came to ice cream. Our biggest challenge was just trying to stay up late. Those care-free days are long gone but they may hold some wisdom for how to beat the summer blues today.
If you’d like to recapture a taste of the summer joy you had as a kid, try some of these ideas:
1. Mental Makeover: Summer can be a contrast between the “haves and the have nots.” When you hear about what others get to do, you may not feel so great about your own summer plans or lack thereof. When you notice once again that life is not fair, allow yourself a momentary silent sigh. Choose to be excited for your friends and then focus on how you will creatively make the most of what you have. Take a tip from the kids on your block who can turn any local mud patch into a mud pie-making factory. Fun is not a location. It’s a state of mind. So, let go of what you used to do or what others are doing and embrace what you have and make the most of it.
2. Plug in. Does your routine change when summer starts? This change can be a source of the blues. If your new routine has you isolated, find a way to plug in to some regular face time with life-giving friends. For some us, face time is like food for the soul. Be sure to get your fill.
3. Make an impact. Get yourself into a positive daily groove. One way to do this is by making it your mission daily to make someone else’s day. Tell someone how much they mean to you or how much you admire something they’ve done. An unexpected act of service can have a lasting impact on both of you. If you want to give a gift, be sure to use local ingredient and don’t spend any money. Giving affirmation, as kids often demonstrate, is sometimes best stated through the gift of a mud pie or picking some of THEIR flowers. Stop the downward spiral of self-focus by focusing on else.
4. Re-learn to play. If you have difficulty with this concept contact any local expert for help. They’ll all be under 6 years old. Pay close attention and take notes if necessary, but only with crayons.
5. Create mini-moments. If working during the summer gets you down try making some creative work agreements to leave early one day each week or take a long lunch to enjoy the sun. If that isn’t realistic, find very small ways to make play a part of your work day. These little changes will help you feel like you can carve out a little enjoyment and still pay your bills.
6. Get a little giddy over the small wonders in life. Have you ever noticed how kids get so excited about the little things like sparkling shoelaces and their own cup holder in the car? Kids are good at sucking every ounce of enjoyment out of something. Just watch them eat watermelon. Can we learn from that? If “maturity” has dulled your senses to some of these sources of joy, try entering the mindset of a child for a little while. Do what they do. Say what they say. Get messy and do embarrassing things. If you are already blue, what do you really have to lose? You may find maturity a little over-rated and find a little joy along the way.
The summer blues can develop into something more serious and there maybe other causes that make using these tips difficult for you. If you’re feeling down for more than a few weeks, not sleeping or eating normally or feel the impulse to make dramatic changes in your life, reach out to a professional counselor for advice. You’ll be glad you did. If you don’t know who to see, ask your doctor. A counselor may be able to add new perspective to your life and highlight options for you that are difficult for you to see. Your doctor or counselor also might evaluate you for a rare disorder call Seasonal Affective Disorder, which in rare cases shows itself in the summer instead of winter. Above all, take action. Don’t let the summer blues get you down.
©2010 by Jay Ostrowski. Jay is a Nationally Certified Counselor in private practice online. You can contact him via email at email@example.com.