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Mental Health

How to turn your summer around if it hasn’t gone the way you’d planned so far

Holidays, birthdays, weddings, picnics, museums – we all seemed to have so many big plans for the summer of 2022. But with August already upon us, you might be feeling a little let down by what the summer has offered so far…   

Summer 2022 was meant to be amazing. It was meant to be Hot Girl Summer and Feral Girl Summer rolled into one. It was meant to be filled to the brim with holidays, reunions, weddings and birthdays. It was meant to be all cocktails at sunset, new romances, lazy days in the park and partying till dawn.

It’s no wonder we all looked to the summer with a sort of devil-may-care attitude – after all, the past few years haven’t exactly been easy on us. However, the real world didn’t pause as the days got longer. Aside from the ever-present pandemic-shaped elephant in the room, we’ve also been swamped with increasingly untrustworthy politicians, a looming climate crisis and increasing inflation sending the cost of living through the roof. And on top of it all, studies have shown that the summer itself can be challenging mentally, too, with summer burnout and heat anxiety.

With all of this playing on our minds, chances are, the summer of 2022 hasn’t exactly been the amazing summer we had all hoped it would be. Whether you’ve been cooped up due to the heat or you’ve tried to save money by cutting back on social events, you may be feeling a little disappointed by the summer so far.

There is, however, a glimmer of hope. We still have one whole month of ‘official’ summer left – and even if you feel summer has gotten away from you, it’s not too late to turn things around and make the most of the sunshine. 

We spoke to Behavioural Change Coach Gemma Perlin to get some insight on how we can all maximise the precious time we have left before autumn rolls around once more.

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Under pressure

Why do we put all of this pressure on summer anyway? Well, for one thing, the weather is warmer and the days are longer. For a few short months, the UK becomes pleasant and sunny. It’s only natural that we schedule all of our ‘fun’ activities during the summer.

In turn, the summer takes on an air of magic. We spend the winter months daydreaming of the summer months ahead. Sure, work kind of sucks and it’s grey and gloomy – but the summer is just around the corner and then, finally, we’ll be happy. Or at least that’s what we imagine.

When our vision of the summer fades away into a disappointing reality, it can be nothing short of crushing. 

4 steps to turn your summer around 

If you’re feeling let down by your summer so far, it’s not too late to get a fresh start on the summer and make the most of the final month.

1. Come to terms with a new mental vision of the summer

One of the biggest problems with the summer is that we all have a tendency to build it up in our minds — the more we visualise an amazing summer, the more we are disappointed when it fails to live up to our expectations.

“Firstly, loosen the pressure you have on yourself,” suggests Perlin. “If you can accept that your summer might not have looked how you envisaged, it allows you to create space for what you want it to feel like instead. If you keep fighting the sense that so far it hasn’t been how you wanted, it doesn’t allow you the choice to discover something new.”

While you may have imagined your summer going a certain way, maybe a different kind of summer is actually what you really need. “Imagine drawing a line in the sand and the days before this moment now softly floating away leaving room for what’s ahead.”

2. ‘Set your brain’ in the right direction

Once you’ve figuratively drawn a line in the sand and let your old expectations go, focus on the future.

“Now it is time to get excited about how much you can gain from the days you have ahead of you,” says Perlin. “Ask yourself, ‘How would you like to feel after the end of the summer?’”

Once you’ve figured out what you really want to get out of the final month of summer, create new, realistic visualisations of what your final month of summer might look like and how these activities will help you get there. “Visualise how you want things to seem on the last day of the summer, how you want to feel and what you want your thoughts to sound like,” she suggests. “What are the steps you need to get there? What is the mindset, the activities, the people who are going to support you to easily get there? Brains are designed to go in directions so it’s really useful if you can set it the way you want.”

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3. Do a daily check in

As the final month of summer begins, make time to check in with yourself to ensure that your new plan is going well. “Give yourself scheduled times daily to check in with how you are feeling,” Perlin says. “Treat yourself to a journal that makes you feel excited to open it. Ask yourself, what are you grateful for daily? What felt great? What could be even better?”

By checking in with yourself, you’ll be less likely to feel like summer ‘ran away from you’ when it comes to an end – instead, you’ll hopefully feel like you were present throughout it all.

4. Get some perspective by reaching out

If you really want to change your approach to summer this month, remember, you don’t have to go it alone. “Invest in yourself and work with a coach who will support you making the necessary resets you want in your summer and beyond,” Perlin says.

“The secret weapon to getting perspective and creating transformative change in your life is working with a coach.”

Of course, if working with a coach or therapist isn’t a viable option, talk to a friend, family member or colleague about how you are feeling. And remember, summer isn’t over yet. There’s still plenty of time to get back on track. 

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