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Dublin: 18 °C Monday 20 August, 2018

6 little things to give your mental health a boost this summer

Here’s how to have a happy three months.

Image: Unsplash

ALTHOUGH WINTERS ARE without a doubt, a harder time to keep up your mental health momentum, summers can bring their own challenges too.

Sure, the sunlight and the extra time outdoors absolutely helps boost your serotonin, but there’s also an element of pressure to always be having the best, Instagram-worthy time that you could possibly have.

And technology doesn’t help – in one of our polls late last year, almost half of Journal readers said that social media had ‘definitely negatively affected their mental health‘, with another third citing that it ‘occasionally’ had done so.

So, this summer, why not spend less time scrolling through reams of photos of faraway beaches and people who are more-than-likely just pretending to be happier than you, and more time making your own memories?

Here are a few sure-fire ways to boost your mood this summer.

1. Check out your local festivals

We’re not just talking about the likes of Electric Picnic and Longitude (though music can boost your mood and reduce anxiety). Some of the less alcohol-heavy festivals can be an even better option for your mental health, as alcohol unfortunately has a huge negative impact on your mood. Here’s what you can do about keeping a handle on it.

Give me some ideas, then! Bloomsday Festival (Dublin, 11th-16th of June), Laya City Spectacular (Dublin, July 6th-8th; Cork, July 14th – 15th) and Listowel Writers Festival (Kerry, May 30th – June 3rd). You can find more in your area here.

2. Get the adrenaline going with a new activity

razvan-chisu-623786-unsplash Source: Unsplash

With a friend or on your own, no matter what your athletic ability or where you live, there is definitely a new activity out there for you. Not only can new activities increase your endorphins, they bring structure to your day, increase self-worth and decrease isolation. Here’s everything you need to know about why it does and how to start.

Give me some ideas, then! The options here are endless to be honest, but here’s an extensive list of all of the free sports and fitness events planned around Ireland on Eventbrite at the minute, so take you pick there. Find a local walking group here or your neighbourhood park run here.

3. ‘Meet up’ with new, like-minded people

The summer can be a seriously tough time for those of us that don’t feel like we have a solid social group, but there’s a world of people out there who share your interests who would love to meet you. In fact there’s a whole website dedicated to it – MeetUp. And there’s massive evidence to suggest that social contact promotes positive mental health.

Give me some ideas, then! It really depends what you’re into but there are some brilliant groups who meet up on a weekly basis for those who love sci-fi and board games, who like films, enjoy reading or those who just adore eating. Find your new crew here. There’s also the very lovely Men’s Sheds to check out too.

4. Try yoga in some picturesque locations

marion-michele-191320 Source: Unsplash

This one combines three activities that literally hundreds of studies have confirmed boost your mood – mindfulness, physical activity and being outdoors. Yoga is a brilliant entry point for those who haven’t tried meditation before and need some guidance. It’s also something that people of any athletic ability can do (and less sweaty than most fitness options).

Give me some ideas, then! Well, the wonderful people of Happenings organise a weekly yoga class in Dartmouth Square in Dublin 6, while the National Gallery have a Saturday yoga series for June. And if you’re in Cork, they’re kicking off an outdoor yoga series in Ballincollig regional park this weekend. Find more in your area here.

5. Rediscover your neighbourhood with a walking tour

We all think we know our neighbourhoods but with the right guide leading you or even on your own, you start to realise that each area holds a host of fascinating secrets. Whether you’re into history, ghost stories or food, someone probably organises a tour in your nearest city. Alternatively, why not make your own list of places you’ve been meaning to visit and just go?

Give me some ideas, then! There are haunted history tours of Dublin, Kilkenny and Cobh. Elsewhere, there are walking food tours every Friday of Clonakilty and Fab Food Trails run some some highly-recommended Dublin and Cork tours. Find a local walking tour that interests you here.

6. Go visit some wonderful local wildlife

wynand-van-poortvliet-364366-unsplash Source: Unsplash

There’s a reason that a lot of people will instantly break into a smile around dogs – they boost both your productivity and your mood and reduce anxiety. But you might be missing out on all the wonderful wildlife in your area (like the gorgeous puffins off the coast of Kerry, pictured above).

Give me some ideas, then! There are entire herds of gorgeous deer you can watch at Phoenix Park (or pop into the zoo if you can’t find them) and a West Cork walking tour, while there’s some incredible wildlife to be found in our six national parks.

Remember, problems feel smaller when you share them. If you need to talk, contact for free:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie (available 24/7)
  • Aware 1800 804848 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 1800 247247 or email mary@pieta.ie – (available 24/7)
  • Childline 1800 666666 (for under 18s, available 24/7)
  • HSE Counselling in primary care (for medical card holders 18 or over).
  • See a comprehensive list of phone and online supports, and more information, on www.yourmentalhealth.ie.

Depression and anxiety can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex or social status. It is not a sign of weakness and any of us can experience it at any stage. Little Things can make a big difference to our mental health. Visit yourmentalhealth.ie for information on how we can protect our own mental healthand support the people we care about. Let’s try to work towards #HealthyIreland - visit HealthyIreland for more. From the HSE. 

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