Picture this. You’re sitting at your desk at work and you look out the window. You see a man in gym clothes walking his dog, you see two friends walking in sundresses enjoying an ice cream. You feel a pang of something that feels like envy. You pull up your Facebook – which, obviously, you never ever do at work – and you see a photo of a bikini-clad high school acquaintance soaking up the Cancun-rays, sipping something frozen and fruity. You scroll down – boats, sand, #vacation, #wishyouwerehere – it’s never-ending. Why is everyone else somewhere else?
Inevitably, we’ve all had a similar experience. Summer can be one of the most fun times of the year. It’s warm, people enjoy the experiences around them, we barbeque with friends and family – but somehow we often still have those moments of feeling like we’re the only ones not enjoying that trip to Aruba or that day on boat on the Chesapeake Bay. However, the reality of it is, many more people are doing exactly what we’re doing. Sitting at our desks working. It’s not at all a matter of whether or not we enjoy what we do or like our job – it’s sometimes just hard to not have the Summer Blues when it feels like you’re the only one not outside enjoying the weather.
But that’s exactly the thing. It feels like you’re the only one. But have you posted a picture of yourself sitting at your desk sipping your coffee or reading the report your boss just sent you? No. The only people posting or Instagramming photos are the ones who are on vacation! They’re excited, they’re happy, they’re having a great vacation and want to share it with their friends and family.
While it may feel like you’re the only one not on vacation, and that can be a lonely place to be, it’s important to remain happy with the summer that the vast majority of us are having. Plan a vacation or brief getaway so you have something relaxing to look forward to, but also try to remember that there are dozens of people (if you work in D.C. – hundreds or thousands) within a couple hundred feet of you not on vacation as well.
Take a walk outside at lunch. Even if you bring your lunch, eat it at your desk while you work and spend your break soaking up some Vitamin D. Find a great outdoor location to meet a friend for happy hour after work. On the weekend, go for a hike or a walk on a promenade. Find a local community pool to join.
Summer is a great time to enjoy the beauty of nature and remain our same productive selves that we are the rest of the year. If we take steps to stay positive, challenged at work, and active outside of work we will feel the beauty of the season – even if every day of it is not spent on that beach in Cancun.
(This blog is written as part of the American Psychological Association’s annual Mental Health Blog Day. Individuals and organizations are encouraged to write a blog post today pertaining to mental health, using the hashtag #mhblogday. For more information, please visit APA’s Your Mind Your Body blog.)