We are officially in summer mode! As June begins comes the end to school years, the beginning of longer days, more sunshine, and space for exploration and rejuvenation. Summer offers us a variety of benefits that directly impact our mental wellbeing. From physical healing properties, to lessons we can learn from, summer is the season for opening up and filling our time with the things we desire most.
Nourishment of Summer
Summer can often be a nourishing time for us. While the fall and winter months prompt us to cozy up and go inward, summer invites us to open up, get outside, and explore more than we normally do. We spend more time with people and can experience more variety in our daily activities. Those activities often push us to do less and be more present.
Think about summer activities like barbecues, swimming, long walks, sitting outside, vacationing, or sporting events. While we may feel like we are doing more – the things we are doing allow us to move a little slower, be more mindful and relax, rest, and soak in the experience. It is a time for nourishment – for the mind, body, and soul. How can you soak up the nourishing moments summertime offers?
The Sunshine Vitamin
Often associated with summer is the “sunshine vitamin” or Vitamin D. One of the highest ways we receive Vitamin D (D3) is by our skins properties absorbing UV B rays and converting the radiation into Vitamin D. This act commonly occurs when our skin is exposed to the sunshine as we are outside.
While we know that Vitamin D is associated with our body and mental wellbeing, about 42% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient, based on a study from 2018. Vitamin D deficiency contributes to low mood, increased anxiety, muscle pain, fatigue & low energy, and bone and back pain.
Professionals recommend getting at least 10-30 minutes of sunlight a few times each week. This ensures that the skin receives exposure to the natural properties of the sun. We can also get Vitamin D (D2) from our diet. These include consuming foods such as the following: fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), fortified foods, mushrooms, and egg yolks. Healthy Vitamin D levels improve the proper functioning of the body, bone health, and immunity and can boost our mood.
What can you do today to spend some time outside and soak in the sunshine?
The Most Joyest Time of the Year?
As all the seasons do, summertime offers lessons and themes that we have the opportunity to learn from if we choose to listen. Some people describe a mood shift during this time of year. This can be due to the amount of time we spend with other people and engage in more relaxing and outside activities.
Thematically summertime is associated with intentions and feelings such as optimism, positivity, hope, and joy. There are endless opportunities that await us in the summer cultivating a sense of excitement for what is to come. A way to tap into or sit with the feelings of joy or positivity can be to spend time writing all the things that contribute to joyful feelings. This can be in the form of a gratitude list or reflecting on intentions you want to set for the next few months. A tangible list is a mindful experience that can be a reminder throughout the months.
Summer is a time for opening. For opening our hearts, minds, and schedules to fill with the moments and activities that we desire the most. We hope you find space to fill your days with what brings you joy, optimism, and peace this summer.
Written by: Chardyce Kott, LSW