Summer Series Vol. 1 - Setting a Routine
By Catherine Kong
“I got that summertime, summertime sadness.” -Lana Del Ray
While it’s common to experience symptoms of depression under the weight of busy schedules and a packed school year, it’s important to recognize how one’s mental health can also deteriorate over the summer. Without a full agenda to keep busy, people have more time to drown in their thoughts; especially for those with mental health disorders, the summer can present an opportunity for intrusive thoughts to overrun their minds. In fact, some people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), where the changing seasons trigger onsets of depression. Of these people, 10% suffer from depression during the summer. But even if you aren’t affected by SAD, it’s not uncommon to feel down during the dog days, and you’re certainly not alone.
Researchers have found that one way to prevent “that summertime sadness” is to set a daily routine. During the school year, both students and parents benefit from reliable routines- while mundane, such practices allow for people to stay healthy and active. However, when summer hits, oftentimes these routines are enthusiastically thrown out the window by exhausted scholars. As students ourselves, we understand how exhilarating it is to ditch work for relaxation; however, we must acknowledge the harm presented by schedule disruptions. For one, regular working, eating, and sleeping habits are discontinued, leading to negative impacts on both physical and mental health. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, too much alone time gives more opportunities for depressive and anxious thoughts to creep in.
That’s where setting a routine comes in! By establishing goals for ourselves and knowing what to expect each day, we can help curb some symptoms of depression and anxiety. Routines do not have to be set in stone, nor do they have to plan out every hour of each day. Rather, they should include a general outline of things you would like to accomplish, and use each day as a stepping stone to reaching those goals. For instance, perhaps you would like to improve your health over the summer: designate each day towards discovering a new recipe or exercise you’d like to try. If you find that you’re lacking motivation, ask one of your friends to join you! Optimally, you should have a couple of objectives planned out for each day, even if they are relatively simple goals, like cleaning your room!
So let’s all get started on creating our own summer routines! Trust us, we know how difficult it is to not want to get up from the comforts of the couch, especially when these two months are the only chances we have to relax. However, once you begin to establish a regular schedule, it will become a piece of cake to start your day. And we’ll be with you all the way- keep your eyes out for more “Summer Series” articles, giving you more ideas you can incorporate into your summer routine!