Summer is a magic time for people of all ages: It brings back memories of freedom from homework and cold weather.
It is a time of hopes and dreams. It is a time for special activities, favorite foods and vacations from routines. People’s moods are often improved when summer arrives and may deteriorate as fall approaches.
How do we find ways to keep the feelings of summer throughout the year? Here are some ways:
Memory box. Find a container or shoe box to store summer objects that will help bring back the summer feeling. Some objects may include flip-flops, calendars, candy, suntan lotion, a bottle of sand and pictures/videos of some of your favorite summer memories. When you have a down or cold day, this memory box will help bring joy and the summer feeling into your life.
Imagery. Close your eyes, inhale and exhale. Say a word that becomes your mantra. Now imagine that you are at your favorite summer place. Many people think about sitting on the beach and hearing the sound of birds and even feel the wind blowing in their face. Imagery is a powerful tool to fight anxiety, a depressed mood and improve your overall wellbeing.
Music. Listen to the songs of the summer from the 1970s to the present. They may include Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston, “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas or “In My Feelings” by Drake.
Food. There are foods that we associate with different seasons. Just because the summer ends doesn’t mean that we can’t eat foods that remind us of summer. Why not eat a frozen fruit pop or water ice? Certain fruits and vegetables can be bought throughout the year. Specialty stores in vacation spots even mail order some of our favorite summer snacks and treats.
Self-soothing. Summer tends to be when we take time for ourselves and relax from our busy schedules. Engaging in self-soothing things including mindfulness, meditation, walks, baths, reading, getting a massage, manicure, pedicure or watching your favorite movie are all personal activities that give you a break from the pressure of everyday life.
Vacation or time out. Many people tend to take vacations in the summer. Why not do the same thing during other times of the year? It could be an elaborate vacation, a long weekend or simply a few hours where you take a break from the pressures of everyday life.
Television and movies. Today’s world offers us many channels with television shows and movies. Why not take a break from everyday life and watch your favorite TV show or movie? You could also travel to a distant land or return to the summer months by choosing a movie that occurs in a warm climate.
Theme party. Plan a party with a summer theme that celebrates summer. You can wear bright clothing and flip-flops even if it is cold outside. Why not integrate summer food and décor to reinforce the summer theme and make summertime come alive for one day or night?
Spend time outside. You can take a walk. Just because summer is over doesn’t mean that you need to hibernate. Sunblock is still important to wear to avoid the sun’s rays. The smell of sunblock will also bring back the summer feeling. Why not barbecue and make some of your favorite foods? There is no reason to put away the barbecue just because the summer is over.
Be a kid again. One of the best ways to keep summer alive is to bring the kid out of you. Think about what you were like as a kid and what you most enjoyed about the summer. Remember how excited you were when school ended and summer began. Remember the sheer excitement of eating ice cream, putting your feet in the sand and ocean and chasing a bird on the beach.
Do things you won’t usually have done during other seasons. Have a picnic even if it is cold outside. Play board games that you haven’t played since you were a kid. Think of things that you haven’t done since you were a kid and explore them again.
Marcy Shoemaker, Psy.D., is a staff psychologist at Abramson Center.