5 ways to beat the summertime blues

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For those who suffer from depression, more time in the day isn’t a bonus

Longer days and warmer weather are on the way. For most people, summertime is a good time of year. It can also be very helpful for people with seasonal affective disorder.

But many others may feel pressured by the extra time in the day and feel guilty for not enjoying themselves. For many depressed people, going to bed is the best part of their day.

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Here are some things you can do to combat the summertime blues.

1. Be grateful this isn’t last year

Remember how we were locked down in many areas, and even Disneyland was closed? Many states are lifting their mask mandates and expecting things will mostly be back to normal this summer. And that’s something we can all be at least a little happy about.

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2. Plan some kind of a summer adventure

Maybe it’s in your own town, or maybe you will travel to a place that holds fond memories or somewhere you’ve never been to create new ones. Whatever your choice, a lot of joy can be found in the planning process. Whether you are going to travel on your own or with a group, your family or just your partner, figuring out everything you’d like to do once you get to your destination is a big part of the fun. It’s also a good way to lift you out of a funk. Happiness comes from making plans, so try it.

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3. Honor any concerns about the virus

It’s understandable to still be nervous about COVID-19. If you are, then continue your protocols and stay safe, but look to taking more walks in your hometown, and commit to discovering new things in your own backyard. It is amazing how just planting a few flowers and watching them bloom helps you blossom internally as well. If that doesn’t work for you, there is always the option of a good garage cleaning. Once you start on home improvement projects, it can become a fulfilling part of your routine.

4. Add a new dimension to your lifestyle

If you didn’t learn a foreign language or invent the next big thing during the lockdown, welcome to the biggest club in the world. This summer is your chance to do something fun that makes you feel good about yourself. You can take up the guitar and have campfire singalongs or learn one of the new soft sports like paddleboarding. The idea is to do something different from the norm but that’s relaxing as well as a little exciting.

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5. Reconnect with good friends and loving family

What a difference being around other people can make. I found that the first handshake I received in a year actually made me feel good, and an unexpected hug even better. Socializing and working with fully vaccinated people makes this a little easier.

Adding joy back into your world, while still being appropriately cautious, is going to make the summer of 2021 a lot more fun than last year. Most all of us need to play a little bit, and summertime brings up thoughts of jumping off piers and walking along a beautiful trail. This is the stuff of life. Being in nature or bringing it to you is a natural healer for the summertime blues.

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Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.