Summer is here, and for many of us that often means relaxation, travel, sporting events, festivals and concerts. However, lingering concerns from COVID-19 has caused many traditional summertime activities to be canceled or they are just not the same, and many of us are experiencing fear, anxiety, and loneliness.
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s recent poll found that more than 4 in 10 Americans say stress from the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. Social isolation and loneliness, loss of job and income, cancellation of school and school activities, burnout and health concerns — all of this and more is part of the COVID world we live in. Our lives just aren’t “normal,” and we don’t know what the “new normal” is.
It can seem overwhelming as we navigate a new way of going about our lives, but it is possible to achieve a positive summer mindset and improve or maintain our mental health in uncertain times. The National Council of Behavioral Health has the following self-care checklist to get some ideas for taking care of yourself this summer. We hope these suggestions will help you get moving, get outside and enjoy the sunshine!
- Ditch the couch and relax outdoors. Grab a blanket or lawn chair and something to read and set up camp on a shady patch of grass.
- Go for a stroll. A long walk can be a great way to clear your head and enjoy a warm summer afternoon.
- Start a garden or join a community garden. Gardening can be a nice way to meditate, enjoy the outdoors and get some sunshine. At the end of the day, you can enjoy the literal fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! While Bedford’s Jordan Gardens Community Garden is full for the 2020 season, growing a garden in your yard or in pots on your deck/patio can be a fulfilling activity.
- Tidy one small space. Perhaps a drawer or the top of your desk – even having one space clean and free of clutter can help you feel calmer.
- Make a summer feel-good playlist. Bring on the summer tunes! Music can be an effortless way to improve your mood and motivate you to get moving. Bonus points for listening while exercising or cleaning.
- Have a picnic. Enjoying a meal outside can be an easy way to get some fresh air and sunshine and shake up your daily routine. Check out the Bedford Takeout Website for participating food establishments www.bedfordtakeout.com/
- Try a new exercise. Getting those endorphins flowing can help calm your mind and improve your mood. Think about doing something outdoors like hiking, tennis or swimming. Just don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray!
- Start or continue a journal. Writing can be a great way to express how you feel and check-in with your emotions. Or, it can just be a place to doodle or draw. Make it whatever you need.
- Reconnect with someone. Call an old friend – or even a grandparent or parent.
- Do an at-home spa day. Taking a bubble bath, using a face mask or doing a DIY pedicure can all be affordable ways to help yourself feel cared for. A candle, essential oils and relaxing tunes can all add to the spa vibe.
- Go exploring. Pull up a map and find a new area of town that you haven’t been to yet.
- Practice mindfulness. Try meditation or make a list of 10 things you are thankful for.
- Do a needs assessment. How did your last week go? Is there anything you could do to make next week better? Maybe you need more sleep, more social time or to prepare some healthy meals before your next busy week. Take a moment to reflect and think about how you can make time for whatever you need to best care for yourself.
As a reminder, Social Work services remain available for all Town of Bedford residents:
If you are a resident who is 60 or older, please contact Danika Castle in the Council on Aging at 781-275-6825.
If you are a resident under the age of 60, please contact Christopher Bang in the Youth and Family Services Department at 781-918-4328.
Services available 24/7:
If you are experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis, please call (800) 640-5432 to speak to an Advocates crisis clinician
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255