“All dressed up and nowhere to go.” Well, maybe not all dressed up these days, but if you’re like me, summer is typically the time of year where I use up all of my vacation days to get outside, go on annual family trips, and hang out with friends. It’s a time I look forward to, and it helps me relieve stress from my everyday life.
However, given the current state of affairs with COVID-19, we all have been stuck inside for months in order to remain healthy (and to continue to remain healthy). Because of this, not only are people hitting the usual “mid-year burnout,” but some could say they have been experiencing cabin fever, anxiety, or other mental health effects. According to HealthDay News, “the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone’s mental health in ways small and large, and experts are concerned that for many, today’s anxiety will become a tidal wave of mental health problems in the years ahead.”
There are various elements that could cause stress or anxiety during this time. People could be dealing with working from home, homeschooling, financial struggles, loneliness, or other factors. I am lucky enough to still have my job, but even with that, some stress still remains. Of course, there are various recommendations out there to help people relieve stress. The CDC recommends asking for help, making sure we connect with people, taking breaks and disconnecting, taking the time to unwind to do the things we love, while also taking care of ourselves, getting exercise, and eating well.
Given that it is summer, now is as good of a time as any to get out and enjoy some form of “vacation,” or more appropriately labeled this year, “isolation vacation.” After all, getting outside (even in the midst of the pandemic) could be beneficial, as long as you are safe about it. A recent study says that spending “120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing.” It’s important to remind ourselves to still take the time for our own well-being to unwind and spend quality time with those in our household. While still staying safe, we can get out and enjoy nature for extended periods of time.
Also, according to studies and experts, taking vacations not only reduces stress, but it can help increase mindfulness, improve heart health, boost brain health, and of course lift your mood. So don’t wait and hoard your vacation for another time, because that might not be for a while. Practice safe social distancing, get outside and take a road trip, go camping, or if you want, take a staycation and find activities around your home, like going on walks or hikes. Living here in the PNW, there are tons of options, and I know from personal experience, getting out for a long weekend really helped me reset. It’s important to remember during these stressful times that we still need to take breaks, and enjoy our summer “vacations” in some form or another.