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29 Little Ways You Can Change Your Life This Summer

Summer of love and self-care and awesomeness.

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We asked the BuzzFeed Community how they take care of their mental health over the summer. Here are some of their helpful, inventive, and practical suggestions.

1. Open your windows.

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Even if your summer is a bit of shitshow weather-wise, open those windows and let the fresh air in. Ashley on Facebook adds: "Opening my windows makes my apartment feel fresh and relaxing."

2. Go for walks.

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When your mental health isn't at its best, doing an invigorating physical activity may seem impossible. Instead, go for a long walk. Taking it slow will help you untangle some of your thoughts while you're still keeping your body active. Put together a walking playlist or download a few podcasts to accompany you on your strolling. I highly recommend The Mental Illness Happy Hour.

3. Learn to ask for help.

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It takes guts to ask for help. Often it means admitting you're vulnerable, but this isn't a bad thing. Asking for help actually means you're being proactive about your situation. It's important to confide in someone before your problem escalates into a catastrophe. Don't be afraid to say: "I need this." Learn to open up and share and be there for others the way you hope they might be there for you.

4. Don't forget to shower.

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This may seem pretty obvious but when depression strikes I often forget to take care of myself. The simple act of making sure I get up and have a shower makes me feel like I can start the day afresh.

Kelsey on Facebook adds: "If don't shower I'll be a couch potato literally all day and then by 8pm feel absolutely horrible about doing nothing. I'm not about to waste a showered bod so at the very least I'll be able to get out, run some errands, read in the park/at the beach."

Madonna, also on Facebook, agrees: "Body wash with mint oil and a cool shower is SUPER helpful, especially if you've been, like, misery-napping."

5. Make your bed.

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U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McRaven mentioned in a commencement speech at the University of Texas: "If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.” Dude has a point.

6. Don't use alcohol to manage your feelings.

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Alcohol has a numbing effect, which is what makes it so tempting to drink away difficult emotions, frustrations, and oppressive loneliness. However, those feelings do come back, often much stronger than they were before. Feelings demand to be dealt with; you can't just put them aside. It's important to develop coping skills that are healthy for you, that allow you to put things in perspective and find the positive in a tough situation.

If you think your drinking is seriously out of hand, talk to your GP immediately or visit the AA website. UK version here.

7. Do something physically challenging.

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If you need a way to stay active without feeling like you're trapped in a gym, try learning something new. Whether it's aerial hoops or hot yoga or rollerblading in the park, you'll feel great for getting out there and doing something fun. Bonus point if you find your activity a little bit scary. I'm actually 100% rubbish at gymnastics and decided to give the aerial hoop a go. I was terrified and could barely lift an arm without looking at the ground and wanting to throw up. However, just getting up there and swinging for a bit was something I hadn't been able to do before.

8. Organise your work space.

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Take a good look at your desk. Declutter, shred, and chuck out anything you don't need. If your desk accessories and decorations are looking a bit worse for wear it's time to part ways with them. They're not going make you feel any more productive. Once you've done that, check out some of these office DIY hacks to give your space a personal touch.

Julie on Facebook agreed: "Reorganising and planning small things that have little impact can take the stress off and focus my brain on something productive."

9. Find your safe space on the internet.

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The internet can be a great distraction but endlessly scrolling through your News Feed might not be ideal if you're feeling down. Instead, find sites you love. I have a collection of Tumblrs that I know will make me laugh out loud. I check out the Long Reads Twitter account if I want to read something I can get totally lost in for a bit. And if I want to discover new music I'll turn to Hype Machine.

10. Plan one thing a day.

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Be kind to yourself, and move at your own pace. Erika on Facebook shared: "I make it a rule to only plan ONE thing a day. If I'm meeting a friend I'll plan to meet her for ice cream. If after that I feel like it, I might take a walk in the park or follow her looking for dresses. I am also allowing myself a rest day if I'm doing something that stresses me out."

11. But those plans don't have to involve other people.

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Don't beat yourself up if your social drive is on the low. Instead, treat yourself like you are your own date. Take yourself out to a nice park, get a fancy cocktail, or go to a play.

12. Dive in.

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Swimming is great for your mental health. Madonna Kilpatrick on Facebook shared: "I really enjoy a leisurely lake swim in the summer, especially if my anxiety has been high or my day has been stressful. The controlled breathing, the rhythmic motions, and the warm/cool/warm/cool ebb and flow of the water."

13. Try not to sleep too much.

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Getting into a routine is a good start to climbing out of a funk but that routine probably shouldn't include "sleep all day." Sleeping too much means you wake up feeling achy, dehydrated, and a little bit fuzzy.

Claire on Facebook recommends quite the opposite: "Don't sleep in. Keep a normal sleep schedule and eat healthy."

14. Get involved with a charity.

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Kirby on Facebook says: "Community service is great. It can be hard to make yourself do it, but afterwards there's the reward of having helped someone in need. It makes me feel more reconnected when I tend to get stuck inside myself. PLUS someone else's day gets better too."

15. Allow yourself to actually feel your feelings, even the shitty ones.

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Sometimes when we're feeling shitty we want nothing else but to push those feelings away, store them up, and deal with them later. However, feelings are needy little creatures. The more you push them out, the harder they'll come rushing back.

Allow yourself to cry, scream, and laugh hysterically when you need to. Release some energy when adrenaline and rage are getting the best of you and talk to someone close to you if you're worried you can't quiet your mind.

16. Leave the house to read.

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Stacey on Facebook shared: "If I havent got anything to do on a bright sunny day I take a good book and go read in the park. I get a little exercise, a nice tan, and I get to feel like I haven't wasted the day moping."

17. Keep learning new things.

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Learning new things is a great way to keep your brain active through the summer. Learning involves setting targets and hitting them, which will make you feel satisfied and a little bit proud of yourself. Danielle tells BuzzFeed: "I take summer school in July and try to volunteer as much as possible in August."

18. Start a wake-up routine.

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Whether it's getting up and stretching, making your bed, or pouring fresh coffee into a mug, your morning routine sets the tone for the whole day. If you get into the habit of repeating this daily, the rest of your day might just become a little bit more productive too.

Larissa adds: "I really enjoy yoga and meditation for mental health. I always do a sun salutation followed with 5-10 minutes of meditation to start my day in the morning. It really helps me get into the right mindset and wakes me up."

19. Say no to things without making yourself feel bad.

Samantha suggests: "Learn to say no! Don’t feel obligated to commit to going to something you won’t enjoy or hanging out with people you don’t like. My free time is mine and if binge-watching Netflix for 12 hours straight is what is going to make me happiest then that is what I’m going to do, goddamnit."

20. Silence that negative voice inside your head.

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When your inner critic is showing no signs of stopping it's important to fight back. Drown out negative thoughts with positive ones and alter your vocabulary so you're not constantly telling yourself all the things you can't/won't/shouldn't do.

21. Get creative.

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Shru shared: "I’m a pianist, so playing my piano (stuff like Tchaikovsky or Glinka or even fun, simple pieces like by Richard Clayderman) really boosts my mood."

Elise added: "I’ve been biking a lot. It’s good to get out of the house, get some fresh air. I try to go to different places every time I go biking, never take the same route or go the same way. I usually find a spot or two along the way, sit down, and draw for a while. I’m not allowed to start over, I do it in pen so I can’t erase, and I can’t tear pages out of the sketchbook I use. It really forces me to just draw, and not worry about the finished product or anything."

22. Grow something.

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Braelynk recommends gardening: "It sounds lame or like something only an elderly person would do but it’s so relaxing and you can see the fruits of your labor making you feel so much more successful. Bonus: If it’s vegetables, you get healthy food to eat, which always makes you feel better."

23. Spend less time on relationships that cause a lot of drama.

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You can't always cut people out of your life in one clean swoop, but you can definitely spend LESS time with people who make you worry and fret all the time. Is that guy you're sort of half-dating making you stress out more than usual? Stop chasing him. Do you have a friend who likes to drop snide comments that make you feel like shit? Stop hanging out with them. Start with decreasing communication with people who are toxic to you, spend less time with them, and definitely don't do them any favours.

24. Seek out support groups if you're struggling.

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Lauren shared: "I found a support group for people suffering from mental illness in my city. They have individualised peer group meetings, BBQs, and other outings. I’ve made an appointment to become a member and hope I can get involved slowly over the summer."

25. Take your meds on time.

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It's easy to become a bit lazy with your meds. And if, like me, your short-term memory tends to fail you you might be familiar with the nightly routine of "DID I TAKE THEM?" when you did about three minutes ago.

Or did you? No, you definitely did. Wait..?

Make sure your meds are visible to you so you see them and remember, whether it's in a pillbox or just on your nightstand. It also helps to set an alarm on your phone. Another handy tip is to make taking your meds part of a ritual you do every day, whether it's brushing your teeth or having that one cup of coffee before you head off to work.

26. Keep a to-do list.

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Keep a to-do list, even if you're not as busy in the summer. Raven shared with BuzzFeed: "I get overwhelmed when there are great big swaths of time doing nothing ahead of me, so I will plan out the day with a to-do list, even if it consists of things like brushing my teeth, having a shower, opening the post. It just helps me get a handle on things when it feels like I could get swallowed up into a whole day of nothing. Crossing things off a list is a big motivator for me."

27. Keep track of the positives.

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When something good is happening to you, capture it – not just because it'll look great on Instagram but because you want to remember it. Even if it's something simple like a pic of your neighbour's cat's cute little face or a theatre ticket to a play that really blew your mind, keep them all in a box or stick them on a memory board.

28. Don't punish yourself for the bad days.

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Somedays, despite all your good intentions, you're going to have a shit day. The important thing is to dust yourself off, start again, and most importantly, take care of yourself. Don't dwell on the day you wasted in bed; just make the most of the moment you're in. Every new second is a new chance to start afresh.

29. Celebrate your little victories.

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A lot of people have a "grand plan" for the way we want our lives to look, whether it's a plan for the week, the summer, or the next 10 years. However, it's also important to notice the little things – like, really little things: I remembered to brush my hair today, I gave all my old clothes to charity, or I finally unfollowed that douche on Twitter. Whatever you've achieved, acknowledge it and celebrate.

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