Summer Blues and Changing How We Think About Independence

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image of Lauren Cloud, LMFT

Written by: Lauren CLoud, LMFT

Independence Day is upon us and we are entering the heart of summer. However, we are still very much in the midst of a pandemic. This means that many of us are left grieving what COVID is taking from us during the short, sweet Colorado summer. What is normally a time to have fun, explore, and exercise your independence is now in question. I am seeing a type of Seasonal Affective Disorder with many of my clients. We normally think of this as a winter malady, but pandemics produce unique circumstances. I am not exempt from this. I am mourning all the hikes I will not take, the trips I will not be able to enjoy, the family and friends I will not be able to see. So what can we do? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Mindfully make the most of what is around you. Since I am unable to be in the mountains the way I want to be, I have been making the most of the trails and walks near my house. I have taken these walks many times even before the pandemic, but I think I am approaching them with a new sense of mindfulness and importance. They are my recharge time. I really take in the sunshine on my skin, the cool morning air, the sounds of the stream, the birds, the quiet of morning before everyone has woken up. I have noticed things about the trail I never noticed before because I was not fully present. I have found new paths, seen new wildlife. I see the same folks walking at the time I choose to walk, which builds a socially distant sense of community. It is peaceful. If I have music in, I am really listening to that music instead of mindlessly walking. It doesn’t quite scratch the itch that being on a mountain top would, but I do find myself feeling comfort in this.
  2. Make (safe) connection a priority. My family lives out of state, so I have been more intentional than ever before about having weekly Facetime calls. For the friends that are closer, I am texting more to check in. These are hard times, so it is not a bad idea to check in with your loved ones.
  3. Remember what COVID has not taken from you. Adventure and travel is essential to who I am and what makes me happy. I feel very hurt that I am limited. However, I am trying to remember what is still available to me. I am still able to enjoy many of the things I love: takeout from my favorite restaurant, a hot bath, outdoor time close to my house, music, TV, hearing the voice of my loved ones, my creative hobbies…I could go on. It is easy to get into a deficit mindset. Try remembering what you still have and be intentional about fully enjoying what is there.
  4. Reflect on the “silver lining”. Quarantine is rich with opportunity for growth. For many of us, it has given us an opportunity to rest, reflect on our priorities, and spend more time with family. We can be more truly present while also thinking about how we want to be different/live differently after this time has passed and life goes back to “normal”.