If you have read my bio, you know that I work in a public school. I always go into the summer with hopes of accomplishing so many things, and I go back to school in August realizing that while I enjoyed my time away, I don’t really feel accomplished, which takes a little something away from my feeling rested and ready to go back to school.
Without some kind of routine or plan, I find myself being indecisive about what to do with my time, and, frankly, I waste a lot of it. Don’t get me wrong, we all need a day to lie around and read a good book, pausing only for a refreshment and maybe a little nap, but if I’m not careful, I can get sucked into this cycle, and then my depression creeps in.
I’m a planner. That doesn’t necessarily mean I have to have every aspect of every day planned out, and if the plan is deviated from, I lose my grace. For me, it means that I need a general outline of what is happening for the day. On Saturday morning, I usually sit down and look at what the next week looks like. However, I get too relaxed with my time in the summer, where again, I find that I’ve wasted a lot of it and give depression the space to creep in.
How Does Too Much Down Time Lead to Depression?
What do I mean by getting sucked into a cycle that allows depression to creep in? Well, friend, let me tell you. For me, it looks like sleeping in since I don’t have anything going on and it is summer, after all. Then, wandering to the couch with my coffee and watching TV for a while. Then, maybe going outside to water my garden. Then, back in to get something to eat and watch some more TV.
I justify this schedule by playing the “relaxing” card. The next thing I know, it’s time for dinner, and I’m feeling a little down on myself for not doing much. I agree that it’s OK to do this once in a while, but this isn’t refueling or rejuvenating in any way; so, it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.
Whether you suffer from some form of mental or physical illness or not, we all need to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves. It’s very important for you to get to know yourself enough to know what “taking care of yourself” looks like for you. I know that I can’t have more than one lazy day. If I spend more than that, unless I’m on vacation away from home, it is a slippery slope toward becoming a habit.
Without being somewhat active, I become vulnerable to negative self-talk, like calling myself lazy, which is an open door for depression. Depression completely zaps me of all energy, causing me to sleep in and the cycle has begun.
My Plan to Enjoy Summer Without Being Too Lazy
This year, I have a new strategy for my summer. I am going to keep with my routine of getting up at my normal time, meeting my friends for our walk, and then carrying on with my day. In one of my previous articles, which you can read here, I talk about how a friend and I started meeting at 5:30 in the morning to walk together. After that, I would get ready for work at school since I didn’t have time to go home in between.
So, I’m excited to keep with our morning walks, especially now that school is out and we can switch up the location and I can bring Remington, my 100-pound lap dog. My sons always accuse me, somewhat jokingly, of loving Remington more than them. Hey, maybe, if they wanted to do whatever I’m doing (including going for walks), I might disagree.
This year, I have a new strategy for my summer. One that includes both rest and routine.
I’ve also made a Summer Bucket List of things I would like to do while on break, and I’m currently writing it out on a cute chalkboard sign so it is visible rather than leaving it as a thought in the back of my head like, “Oh, I’d really like to hike Oyster Dome.” That would be easily forgotten. The criteria I set for my list was to keep it simple, and if an item on the list was not an investment in myself or a relationship, it was cut. It also had to refresh, refuel, or rejuvenate my mind, body, or spirit.
Here Is My List of Things to Accomplish This Summer:
- Hike Oyster Dome
- Explore Teddy Bear Cove
- Sort, purge, and clean my craft room
- Spend time in my garden
- Write several of the articles I’ve been tossing around
- Find a place for my new hammock and read a book
- Meet a friend for coffee or fro-yo
- Swim with my family
When I first came up with this idea, I sat down and plotted out what a general day would look like. Let me tell you, it quickly got out of hand and I had to reign it in. By “out of hand,” I mean that I wrote out times for getting up, going to walk, showering, and breakfast, then I found myself scheduling snack time… Really? Am I not even allowing myself to decide on a whim if I want a snack? Too far. There has to be a happy medium.
So, this summer, to do the things I want to do and take care of my mental health, I need to have the grit to continue to get up at 5:00 am when my alarm goes off and maintain my morning routine. Let’s be real; I’ll probably need to tap into that grit to hike Oyster Dome. I will also need the grace to know that if I need a nap or a snack, that’s OK too. After all, it is summer, and I need to make sure I’m soaking up that sunshine and taking time to rest and rejuvenate.
Want to learn more about being a purposeful woman? You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Are You the Proverbs 31 Woman? Should You Be? – 092