Written by Shelby Deering

I have found that there are some summer mainstays that haven’t been affected by the pandemic. The longing to take a Sunday afternoon nap as balmy breezes come in through my window. Lingering over a tall glass of cold lemonade. Sitting on my front porch as I watch the sunlight dapple the clouds.

Summer is a time that invites us to slow down, and that’s something we can all use more of these days. Although slowing down is definitely beneficial for the mind, perhaps you’ve realized that you’ve fallen behind on some of your mental well-being goals. Like engaging those calming DIY projects that are now just sitting in your closet because you’ve chosen to be outside instead. Or, lounging in a hammock and skipping that virtual yoga class.

Don’t get me wrong - slowing down is good. Really good. But I’ve found that there is a difference between going slow and nurturing a positive and resilient mental outlook. Even though you’re an adult now, maybe you still feel like a kid who’s on summer vacation from school, and deep down, you just don’t feel like checking off those things on your mental well-being to-do list.

Stress is real right now, so it’s more important than ever to carry out a thoughtful mental well-being routine. If you feel like that’s something you’ve put on the backburner all summer, here are four ways to bring your routine back to life.

Try Mindful Movement

Summer has a way of making many of us go on auto-pilot. I think that “Spring Fever” continues long into summer, and with our heads in the clouds, it can be something that can pull us away from being mindful. With that said, ramping up some mindful movement could be a good idea. That means getting out your yoga mat and participating in a virtual class in your backyard (the bonus is that you can mindfully enjoy nature, too). If you go for a run, turn off your music, and instead, pay close attention to the details and scenery around you. You can even mindfully lift weights, practicing slow, purposeful movements that allow you to tune into your thoughts.

Get Back to Meditating

Maybe you’ve been cutting your meditation practice short so you can go off and do summertime activities. Again, I get it - summer is my jam, too. So, if you’ve been lax in this area, I’d recommend meditating with an app like Aura and adding just 10 seconds to your practice each day, so you won’t be overwhelmed. By the time fall is in full swing, maybe you’ll be back to your pre-summer meditation time. Right now, I’m working my way up to 10 minutes for each daily session, which many experts agree is a good amount of time to see the benefits.

Reconnect with People

Summer has a funny way of pulling us away from things that we usually don’t think twice about. Maybe all that sunshine and fresh air has taken you away from your devices (which is excellent!), but that’s likely the way you’re communicating with far-off loved ones right now. With the summer we have left, make it a point to reconnect with people who help your mental well-being, whether it’s a video chat, an email here and there, or a simple text message. The pandemic has inspired people to write letters again, so perhaps you could drop a letter in the mail to a faraway friend. Feeling genuine connections with others is a scientifically proven way to better your mental outlook.

Don’t Be Hard on Yourself

Habits are hard to keep, whether it’s summer, or, you know, if there’s a global pandemic that’s constantly in the forefront of your mind. Again, this is more than understandable. If your habits went by the wayside this summer, it’s OK. Just know that keeping a routine full of healthy and mindful habits will ultimately be the best way to aid your mental well-being, and you’ll likely have plenty of time to improve on that routine into the fall.

When I get overwhelmed with trying a new routine or sticking to a fresh habit, I remind myself to not beat myself up. Studies say it can take more than two months for a behavior to become automatic, so I take small steps in the right direction. I also use a daily habit tracker called Productive that reminds me to do things that benefit my mental health. If I didn’t have this app, taking my vitamins, drinking water, and meditating would be a lot harder to remember.

So, with the summer we have left, go slow - but be purposeful in your unhurriedness. Take your time as you rediscover your mental well-being routine. Your heart and mind will thank you.