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8 Summer Self-Care Practices to Try

5 min.

Looking to make the most of your summer? Check out these eight self-care tips to help. From finding a productive routine to getting outside, we've got you covered.

By: Charlie Health Editorial Team

Clinically Reviewed By: Don Gasparini Ph.D., M.A., CASAC

Updated: July 1, 2023


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Throughout the spring, fall, and winter, school assignments and extracurricular activities are usually more top-of-mind for young people than self-care. Summer, however, is a chance to exhale. It’s the perfect time to wave goodbye to the tremendous pressure you’ve been under and focus on taking care of yourself. 

This season can come with its own stressors, though, like changes to daily routine and weather patterns that disrupt your circadian rhythm. Regardless of how you feel about summer, practicing self-care techniques can help you make the most of the season since self-care and mental health are closely linked: taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining your mental well-being. Here are eight summer self-care ideas for teens to try this year. 

1. Follow a consistent schedule

Ignoring your routine this summer might be tempting, but following a consistent schedule is a self-care practice that can improve mental health. You can try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day or sit down for breakfast, lunch, and dinner consistently. Your daily routine doesn’t have to be completely the same every day, but consistent routines can help you feel your best. For instance, going to bed and waking up around the same time each night is linked to healthier sleep hygiene and, by extension, better mental health. 

2. Keep a gratitude journal

Gratitude journaling, the practice of reflecting on things you’re grateful for in your daily life, is a self-care practice that can help rewire your brain. Focusing on the positive aspects of your life can build resilience, combat negative thoughts, and deal with emotional stressors. 

Every morning (or night, if you prefer), take some time to jot down what you’re grateful for. Consider writing about a person you’re grateful for, an aspect of your body that you appreciate, or a moment from the week that made you smile. To make matters better, this self-care activity can double as an anchor for your morning or evening schedule. 

3. Spend some time outside

Summer comes with warmer temperatures and sun-filled days, and there are many ways to take advantage of the picture-perfect weather. Try walking around your neighborhood, sitting in the grass, or enjoying a picnic. Spending time outdoors is a self-care practice linked to positive mental and physical health outcomes. When you get exposure to natural sunlight, your body produces vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in regulating mood and combating symptoms of depression. Also, outdoor physical activities, like walking or stretching, release endorphins (also known as the “happy” hormones) that boost mood and overall well-being. 

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4. Prioritize your physical wellbeing 

There is a mind-body connection between mental and physical health, meaning that taking care of yourself physically can boost your mental health. Prioritizing your physical well-being during summer can look different than during other seasons. Because of the heat, you’ll want to stay hydrated and protect your skin. Consider carrying a water bottle with you and keeping sunscreen on hand for some easy self-care. Summer also brings abundant fresh fruit and vegetables, and you can incorporate your favorites into nutritious and tasty meals. 

5. Make a feel-good summer playlist

Listening to music is an easy way to boost your mood and unleash your creativity. Upbeat music can be uplifting and energizing, providing you with a sense of joy and happiness. Browse your favorite music streaming service, find new songs that boost your mood, and make them into a playlist. You can even listen to the playlist during a daily walk or in the morning as a part of your daily self-care routine. 

6. Look for fun activities in your community

Yard sales, county fairs, outdoor movies—summer is often abundant with local events, and adding some you’re excited about into your schedule can be a form of self-care. Attending a community event (by yourself or with friends) can also add structure to your routine and give you something to look forward to. There are multiple ways to check what activities may be happening in your community, with platforms such as Facebook and Eventbrite allowing users to invite, share, or host community events. Also, make sure to check your local municipal website and cultural institutions for events: many libraries and museums offer free or low-cost summer activities, and some cities host free concerts and movies in the park. 

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7. Say no to some plans

Although summer usually means more events, and the added pressure to hang out with friends or family, you don’t have to say yes to everything. In fact, if you don’t take enough time to rest, constant socializing can drain your mental health, not a form of self-care. Remind yourself that it’s OK to say no to some plans and take time for solo self-care instead. This may look like an at-home spa day, an afternoon spent alone reading a book, or a special meal out by yourself. Remember, as with all things self-care, do something that brings you joy.

8. Put your mental health first

One solid way to take care of yourself this summer is to simply ask yourself, “How am I doing?” Even if you had a good week full of fresh fruits and warm weather plans, take time to check in with yourself. How did you feel? Is there anything you could do to make next week better? Maybe you need to go to bed earlier or spend more time outside after work. It’s easy to get swept up in the fervor of summer activities and forget to check in with yourself. 

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Summer mental health support at Charlie Health

If you realize that you’re feeling anxious or depressed or noticing other signs of mental health issues, it’s important to remember that help is available. Online therapy can help you access quality mental health care from the comfort of your own home—and you won’t have to put your summer on hold to meet with a licensed therapist.

At Charlie Health, our personalized virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offers comprehensive mental health support for adolescents, teens, young adults, and their families. Our IOP combines personalized tracks of group, individual, and family therapy to help you care for your mental health throughout the year, including during the summer. Get started today.

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