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Ditch the summer blues! The most common misconception is that people no longer suffer from mental health struggles as the weather breaks. As Mental Health Awareness Month begins and people prepare for sunny weather and summer vibes, we want to share some practical practices to improve mental health. 

Surprisingly, not everyone looks forward to the arrival of summer. There are some people who actually dread the hot, lazy summertime days and may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is a major depressive disorder affecting about 5% of Americans during the winter months. When days are short, nights are long, and cold, wet weather keeps people indoors, the body produces less vitamin D, whose deficiency has been shown to affect metabolism and mood. While there are fewer people who are thought to be similarly depressed in the warmer months, UCI Health psychiatrist, Rimal Bera, MD confirms that summertime SAD is a real thing.

Check out a list of tips that will continue to improve your mental health through the summertime:

Track Your Gratitude

Be sure to track your gratitude with a daily gratitude journal. Write down 3 things you are grateful for each day and 3 things you were able to accomplish.

Move Your Body

Movement is one of the easiest ways to boost endorphins. Dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body’s “feel-good” chemicals).

Laugh Out Loud

Go to a comedy show, watch funny and cute videos online or hangout with one of your funniest friends. Laughter is the perfect way to reduce anxiety.

Write It Out

Journaling is another way to get those feelings out of your head and onto the page. If it’s something you need to get rid of completely, write it down and burn it (safely).

Practice Forgiveness

People who forgive statistically have better mental health and report being more content with their lives than those who don’t practice forgiveness.

Be In Nature

Take a short stroll through the park or take a hike outdoors. Research says that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost overall well-being.

Pocket Full of Sunshine

Even if you don’t enjoy the hot weather, spending time in the sun is such an easy way to get rid of the summer blues. Be sure to apply your sunscreen and get at least 15 minutes in the sun. Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D, which experts suggests is a mood elevator.

Add Omega-3s to Your Diet

Omega-3 fatty acid enriched diets are linked to a decrease in depression and schizophrenia among their many benefits. Fish oil supplements work, but eating your omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds or walnuts also helps build healthy gut bacteria.

Rest & Restore

Be sure you get enough rest. The sun can naturally drain you, so getting enough sleep is key. Be sure you’re also eating enough throughout the day.

Stay Hydrated

Drink your water! There’s no way you can navigate life properly without staying hydrated.

Ditch The Summer Blues: 10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health  was originally published on globalgrind.com