Beat Languishing During Summer Break | Imagine Learning

June 17, 2022 12:00 am

Find Your Summer Happy

Feeling “the blahs” after a long, exhausting school year? Chase them away with 21 simple ways to feel happier this summer.

How often have you seen something posted on social media that just hit your funny bone and turned your spirits upside down? Laughter, smiles, watching or participating in happy moments have the capability to lift your spirits and “chase the blues away.” For me, I can crank up my old high school or college tunes, start dancing, and the bubble of “the blahs” pops. 

“The blahs” may not be a technical term, but it certainly is a reality — especially after a long, trying school year. It can affect your work and your ability to feel joy. It can cause: 

  • Disconnect with your coworkers
  • Irritability, confusion, or sadness
  • Inability to get excited about upcoming projects
  • Difficulty focusing or remembering
  • Procrastination or lack of motivation
  • Related feelings in your personal life 

You may have heard of the term languishing. It fits right into what we are talking about. The American Psychological Association describes languishing as the condition of absence of mental health, characterized by apathy, listlessness, and loss of interest in life. Languishing is not to be confused with depression and burnout. They differ in cause and severity. On the other end of the spectrum is flourishing and experiencing engagement and joy in your life. Dr. Lynn Soots, a psychologist whose research focuses on a positive learning environment, emphasizes that flourishing isn’t a static trait or something that “you either have or you don’t.” It can be learned — or even better, practiced. The more effort you put into it, the more you’ll flourish. (Are you languishing? Here’s how to regain your sense of purpose.

If you are experiencing “the blahs” or feeling drained at this moment, you may feel like this is an unbeatable wellbeing challenge but read on. I have done some research, and will highlight ideas and studies that I hope can make today what it can be. 

Woman in workout clothes during her workout

Insert happy: increase your positive emotions. 

  • Be around someone with a quick mind and great humor. There are a few people at work that, if I engage with them long enough, I will be enjoying a big belly laugh. I can even cackle on occasion.
  • Sing a song. Music therapists report that singing boosts your mood, and studies have shown singing also enhances immunity by increasing antibodies that fight sickness. For those of us that are vocally challenged, shut the door, play your favorite happy song, and sing along. Remember there is always singing in the shower to start your day. 
  • Watch a funny video on YouTube, comedy movies, or take a short browse through a hilarious website. Smile, even if it is just to yourself.
  • Hugs are known to release endorphins, a chemical that helps you feel excitement or satisfaction. A big warm hug from a friend, loved one, or even your pet is one of the best ways to lift your mood.
  • Change your background on your monitor. So many choices! 
  • Take a break and play with your dog or cat. Or look at pictures or videos of baby animals. If you are an animal lover, it will work for you. 
  • Color around you can make a difference. Go to your closet and find something that says happy to you and put it on.
  • Follow David Allen’s Two-Minute Rule. Check your to-do list and find something that you can complete in around 2 minutes. Once done, your sense of accomplishment will help dissolve that mind roadblock and get you going.
  • Get up and move. Here is where I will give a plug for dancing to music that makes you happy. I hope you are not still sitting while you watch this video!
  • Take a walk outside. Get some natural vitamin D.
  • Find a swing and get some lift! I am a great proponent of this one. I also love take-off on jets and roller coaster rides, but this one is more accessible. This childhood fun is not only exhilarating, but it can also boost your mood as you enjoy the outdoors. 

You are of value. 

  • Practice self-compassion or self-affirmation. Positive statements about yourself can encourage your brain to believe you are or can do something. Your actions often follow. There is magic when we can recognize the individual value we have. Remember, you are great! Take a moment now and tell yourself.
  • Connect with someone who thinks highly of you. Just talking with someone positive absolutely helps. I have a practice of keeping emails in an Outlook file, where employees expressed their thanks. Rereading my old emails is another blahs popper. Try it!

Notice the good in life.

  • Find a photo album or pick up your phone and scroll through your pictures/albums. Take a walk down memory lane and see what fun you have had. Focus on the people in the pictures and what they mean to you.
  • Gratitude goes a long way. One study showed that participants who wrote gratitude letters regularly displayed significantly better mental health than those who didn’t. In fact, brain scans suggested that expressing gratitude might even have the power to rewire our brains for the better. 

Pick the right snack. 

  • Grab a handful of nuts. Stash walnuts, almonds, and pistachios in a convenient place for a mood-lifting snack. They’re packed with omega-3 fats that help make people less prone to depression. Plus, studies show that the act of repetitive chewing enhances serotonin production which can improve your mood and help you reduce stress.
  • Love chocolate? Go for dark chocolate. Because milk chocolate contains added ingredients like sugar and fat, it’s best to opt for dark chocolate — which is higher in flavonoids and lower in added sugar. You should still stick to 1–2 small squares (of 70% or more cocoa solids) at a time since it’s a high calorie food.
  • Go bananas! Who would have thought bananas! They’re high in vitamin B6, which helps synthesize feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. When paired with fiber, sugar is released slowly into your bloodstream, allowing for stable blood sugar levels and better mood control. Blood sugar levels that are too low may lead to irritability and mood swings. As a side note, when a banana is still showing green on the peel, it is an excellent source of prebiotics, a type of fiber that helps feed healthy bacteria in your gut. A robust gut microbiome is associated with lower rates of mood disorders. 

Having trouble getting out of bed? Try these when you wake up. 

  • Breakfast. Think about something delicious and out of the norm for breakfast. Take the extra time to make an omelet filled with good vegetables or add fresh berries to your cereal. Make a healthy smoothie or your favorite morning drink.
  • Gratitude. Think of something you are grateful for when you wake up each day. You’re priming your brain with positive information at the very start of your day and placing your attention on the good in your life.
  • Make your bed. It is a simple action that you can check off in the morning that makes you start your day feeling accomplished. Studies show that this is a common practice with successful people. (And it keeps you from crawling back into bed.) 
  • Something good. Think of something that you are looking forward to. It could be something that will happen today or in the future. It is getting closer every moment. Feel excited! 

I hope just reading this article has lifted your mood and/or brought you a laugh. I know researching happiness and positivity certainly helped my day flourish. Have a happy and healthy summer, teachers. You deserve it.

About the Author — Helen Cox

Helen Cox lives at the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains and has enjoyed 10 years with Imagine Learning. As a Wellbeing Specialist she promotes financial, mental/emotional, physical and social wellbeing among her fellow employees. Away from work she enjoys all things outside: hiking, gardening, camping, and even just sitting on her swing taking in the views.