How to Effectively Use the Summer to Improve Your Mental Health


Sophia Robertson, Digital Media Editor/Contributing Writer, Greensboro NC

With around a month left for most of us before school begins again, it’s crucial that we use this free time to improve our mental health. We all know that school adds enormous amounts of stress to our everyday lives, and in addition to our classes, many of us have extracurricular activities and sports beginning in the fall. The summer is a time for us to relax and get in the right mindset for the upcoming year. 


While many of us have summer assignments and jobs, it’s important to take time to ourselves. Personally, I’m using the summer to catch up on some of the classes from last year that I may not have gotten enough out of because of online learning. For example, I took IB Biology SL (standard level) last year, and next year I will be taking IB Biology HL (higher level) along with the IB exam. Since I feel like I didn’t learn enough from my SL class, I’m reviewing the material on a daily basis. However, I have to limit the amount of studying that I do so that I can take time to myself. It’s important to find the right balance between doing what needs to be done and what I want to do. I cover one topic of IB Biology SL every day, which typically takes about two hours, but to balance that out, I always try to do something that I really enjoy, such as drawing, watching a movie, or making crafts. 


Another way that has helped me improve my mental health is practicing yoga. Originally, I thought yoga was a little bit weird because of the slow pace and unique poses, but after trying it a  few times, I understood why people enjoy it. Yoga is a way to exercise without feeling sick, dizzy, or out of breath after a few minutes of heart-pounding cardio. Instead, I feel strong and balanced after doing yoga. Yoga may not be the most effective way to burn calories and lose weight, but it definitely tones your muscles. I feel good during and after the exercise, so it’s a great way to get in shape in a healthy, happy way. I typically follow videos on YouTube for about 30 minutes each day, and that’s all it takes! Even if you already have a steady exercise routine, such as running a few days every week, I definitely recommend adding yoga to your routine. It calms your mind while healing your body.


Creating a gratitude list may also help improve your mental health. It may sound silly or cliche, but even writing a list of the things that you are grateful for once a week shifts your thoughts to the good things in your life. All you have to do is take out a piece of paper, think of the things that make you happy, and write them down. Then, take a look at that list when you are upset to remember what you are thankful for.


Music may also improve your mental health. When I know that I have a long day ahead of me, I turn on Spotify and listen to one of my favorite songs, maybe singing along or nodding my head to the beat. I have an entire playlist of Disney songs that makes me smile whenever I hear them because it brings back good memories. However, your song or songs could be spiritual, pop, rock, or anything other genre that you prefer. The only requirement is that it makes you feel good! Normally, listening to an upbeat song puts a pep in my step for the rest of the morning. 


With school, sports, family commitments, extracurriculars, and so much more, sleep deprivation is common in teenagers during the school year. During the summer, it’s important to catch up on all of that lost sleep. Try to go to bed at a reasonable time, especially when you have to wake up early the next morning. Instead of scrolling through social media, playing video games, or watching TV to the crack of dawn, rest your body so that you have plenty of energy. If you have trouble sleeping, there are several remedies to this. Some people need medicine, while others simply need to adjust the temperature, take a warm shower beforehand, or get in a comfortable bed. I typically fall asleep within the first 30 minutes of lying in bed, but I take longer when I am worried about something or have a great amount of energy. In these cases, I turn on smooth jazz music. It’s very calming, and it helps me fall asleep much faster than I would if I was listening to the sound of cars on the street or the eerie quietness of my house.


Staying organized is another great way to prepare for the school year with a strong mindset. Purchase a planner or print calendars from your computer so that you can write down important dates. Remaining organized on paper isn’t the only way that you should work on organization. If your room is a disaster, maybe the summer is a good time to give it a deep clean. I love being in my room when it’s not cluttered. It helps my mental health since stepping over clothes and books littered on the floor frustrates me while looking at a clean room gives me a sense of triumph.


In summary, the last month of summer is crucial in boosting your mental health and getting prepared for the school year. Taking time to yourself, practicing yoga, creating a gratitude list, listening to an upbeat song in the morning, getting good rest, and staying organized are just a few techniques that can help you break free from your stress that may have built up during the school year. Even if you have no interest in some of these methods, try a few of them. Your future self, the same you that will be walking into school on the first day feeling healthy and mentally prepared, will thank you.

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