Summer is here, and for many of us, we have retreated back to our phones and electronics for entertainment as we lay on the couch and do absolutely nothing. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much free time I really have — I realized summer fatigue is real. If you’re similar to me, you’ve just wanted to lie in the sun and not worry about your responsibilities. We’ve all had our off days. We’ve all felt lazy, unmotivated, and uninspired from time to time, and in all honesty, it’s normal to feel like that.
We live in such a competitive world that is so focused on pursuing success and wealth, it often makes us feel guilty for the time that we are not as productive. When you overwork yourself towards exhaustion and are dealing with stress, it will inevitably have adverse effects on your mental and emotional health. Finding ways to stay motivated and improve your mental health may be tricky.
Now that the weather is so nice, we tend to spend more of our time outdoors. Since the sun is out for a longer period, some of us tend to stay out later and go to bed later. We use summer as a way to relax and regenerate ourselves from a hectic work season. In a way, being “lazy” serves as a necessity to refuel our energy. The question is, why does the summer make us so tired? Personally, I know I’m bound to have a great night of rest after I’ve enjoyed a hot sunny beach day. A physiological explanation could be that as our heart rate increases and blood vessels dilate, we are consuming more energy, causing us to feel drained. According to psychologicalscience.org https://www.psychologicalscience.org/topics/weather-and-behavior, warmer weather actually slows our body down. That means the hotter and sunnier it gets, the more energy it takes to keep our body cool.
Heat drains our energy. So, why are we less productive in the summer? According to the APA, when heat increases, productivity decreases. This is due to a more relaxed climate. A 1% increase in temperature increases the chance of being inactive and unmotivated by 5%.
However, I don’t believe that temperature and weather are the only factors that contribute to laziness and a lack of motivation in the summer. For many of us, we are either out of college, taking fewer courses, or working fewer hours in the summer with more vacation days. Therefore, we have ample time on our hands, and in most cases, we fill it with meaningless things to do. We may be more unmotivated in the summer due to feeling burnt out in the winter and fall.
Fun fact: relaxing and taking a vacation can cause a release in dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps to control the brain’s reward and pleasure center. An increase in dopamine will increase the feeling of happiness. Happiness is addictive, and anything addictive becomes more desirable. Therefore, people tend to feel more content when idle time and want more of it. It is healthy to relax and we all need a break. Finding your balance point is important for maintaining your mental health. Doing small things that give you pleasure will also improve your mental health and help you to manage your stress. Swimming increases my mood and energy. Other activities you may enjoy are riding a bike, going for a walk, cooking and reading.
This cycle can be easily broken. There are productive ways to increase dopamine levels and kick summer laziness to the curb. Here are some healthy summer tips to keep your mental health in order while relaxing and remaining productive!
3 Healthy Summer Habits that aren't too late to start today!
1. Start Mindful Lifestyle Habits:
It is very important to disconnect from time to time. Turning off your phone and being one with nature and your surroundings or the people you’re with is essential and so personally I need to improve on. Being mindful and present creates a more enjoyable and less stressful environment for you and those around you. With life slowing down in the summer, take advantage and disconnect from the online world!
Another healthy habit is to take your work outside. If you think your summer has to be all work and no fun… think again. Whether you are working remotely, or taking online classes, completing work outdoors is a good way to stay motivated and get some air and vitamin D outside of your normal workspace. Personally, I enjoy working on the patio or going to a local coffee shop. If you do have a job that restricts you from working outdoors, going for a walk on your lunch break is also beneficial. Just remember to wear your SPF and not allow your environment to become your distraction!
2. Develop Healthy Eating & Drinking Habits:
Moving on to diet and drinking habits. Many of us tend to stray from our diets as soon as the weather begins to heat up. Keeping hydrated in the summer is a great way to stay motivated and active. Carbonated drinks such as soda and slushes are really delicious, but sometimes these drinks can make us feel slothful and inactive. Moderation is key to maintaining a healthy diet. With every drink consumed, be sure to drink one glass of water right after, to replenish hydration levels. If you happen to be a person who has a difficult time consuming water, flavored sparkling water may be for you. Cutting up fruit such as strawberries, blueberries or even adding mint, may make your refreshing glass of water more tasty! By drinking 8oz of water, which is roughly about 2 liters, will help to stabilize your heartbeat, flush out bacteria, aid digestion and most importantly increase your energy- helping you to live a more productive life.
Swapping out pastries and other sweets for fresh fruit will benefit you in more ways than one. Dry fruits such as dates, figs, raisins, apricots, prunes, and mangos are excellent sources of potassium for maintaining a healthy digestive system. These fruits are high in iron and folic acid to help maintain good blood levels. Prunes and Dates are rich in antioxidants to help prevent hypertension and heart disease. Remember it may be easier to pack a few snacks and your H20 to keep you energized and prepared for whatever summer fun activities you are engaged in.
If you’re interested in learning about how diet can improve our lifestyle, feel free to check out a Talklet blog, “Eat your Stress Goodbye: Your Stress Reducing Diet”.
3. Create Goal-Oriented Habits:
Having spent the past few years creating new habits and routines to boost productivity, I want to share a few important habits that I have grown to embrace and put into practice over the past few months. I learned to create a system that works for me, instead of comparing myself to others.
A goal is a result you want to achieve, a system is a process that leads to those results. With that being said, write down every goal you want to accomplish this summer, afterwards prioritize and choose the most important goals.. For example, if your space is a mess, you’d set it as a goal to clean it. Once you accomplish that goal, the result is you have a clean room. Temporarily, it’s clean until messy again, and because of your recycled, unchanged habits of not putting things back to where they belong.
This is where the word “lazy” is derived from, that you constantly hear your mom, dad or friends calling you. It is still important to have a general idea of our future goals, but the takeaway is that it’s less about continually putting off happiness until the next milestone and more about trusting ourselves and our system. While your goals may be less structured due to summer, try to get in the habit of accomplishing at least one thing on your goals list per day. I promise, you are going to feel more accomplished in the end!
If you're still interested in boosting your motivation, especially in the winter months, feel free to check out an amazing blog by Jil Johannpeter, “Embrace your ‘Winter Blues’ : How Focusing on your Motivation can help you get through the Season”.
In conclusion, as we are constantly changing, our habits and routines are bound to change as well. While some work best with a very structured routine that repeats itself daily, others, like myself, work best when practicing positive self-care habits first. Staying productive is important because it gives us a sense of purpose in life. A general reason to get up every morning, and when we reach our goals our-self esteem skyrockets. Just keep in mind, we need rest, we need space, we need flexibility, and we need curiosity and wonder for our lives. It’s okay to some times be unproductive, especially in the summer. After all, we are human. With summer here, allow yourself to bask in the sunlight, emerge yourself in the cool blue, and wallow amongst the seagulls in the sand.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… including you” -Anne Lamott
By: Francesca Mina