How to Beat Summertime Sadness


Photographs courtesy of Photo by Pixabay

Even though summer is full of fun, sun, and freedom, it can also be a time of boredom and additive stress for college students returning home. It takes time to readjust to constant family contact, working more often, possible summer classes or internships, and other switch-ups from college life. Many people have trouble maintaining the old friendships that flourished before they moved away. And they may not be able to visit on-campus friends at all until fall. In spite of these roadblocks, there are plenty of ways for students to take care of their mental health this upcoming season.

The good thing about having fewer, if any, classes over the summer is that this leaves more room for getting back into old hobbies. Making art, playing sports, listening to or making music, spending time in nature, and other activities can be extremely effective at alleviating boredom and stress. They also carve new neural pathways in the brain, so to speak, and sharpen skills that may have been made dull by lack of practice over the school year.

Balancing work and play is crucial to one’s state of mind. Each person has a different baseline activity level at which they are is happiest, so the amount of effort put in depends upon the individual. Overworked individuals should set aside time for meditation, candlelit baths, and other calming activities. Those who are itching for something can do might find solace in doing something productive, like looking at scholarships or opportunities to study abroad.

Psy.D and Counseling Center director Bethany Bilyeu adds that part of staying mentally healthy involves time management according to one’s goals and values:

“Usually during the summer there are lower demands on your time, so take advantage and schedule yourself some down time. It is important to schedule and protect it so others don’t take it. This may mean saying ‘no’ when asked to take on new projects or pick up extra shifts at work. Prioritize your values … When you know your values, it is easier to make decisions based on what’s important to you. You can reflect throughout the summer if you are meeting your priorities or if you may need to shift how you are spending your time.”

Lastly, one simple but important way for students to keep their mind healthy is to keep their body healthy as well. Getting enough vitamins, minerals and macronutrients, drinking plenty of water, exercising and getting enough sleep are simple ways to get back on track. And as always, see a mental health professional if symptoms persist or worsen.