Trips to the beach, frequent sleepovers, and parties for every holiday and occasion – what’s not to love about summer? Unless of course, you are, like me, an introvert struggling with depression.
During the year when many people are in school, college, or jobs, structured schedules tend to keep social events limited to the weekends. Come summer and a little extra wiggle room in our schedules, along with the pressure to attend social events several times a week can quickly become overwhelming.
This is especially true for those of us who are drained of energy in social settings (even though we often enjoy them) and who have an illness that depletes our energy and forces us to ration it.
What’s a fun and people-loving introverted person with depression to do?
The first and most crucial step toward truly enjoying this summer is to plan.
In my experience, the best way for me to enjoy the summer is to try my best (without stressing too much) to gather information ahead of time about what fun events are going on each week.
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For you, this might mean keeping track of parties scheduled ahead of time or asking a couple friends who you often hang out with to try to give you a little advanced notice when they are thinking about making plans.
It also means taking the initiative to plan things you know you and your friends will truly enjoy so you can plan a little bit easier.
Not only does this make summer a little easier for you, but it will likely make your friend group livelier: think well-planned trips to fun places instead of wasting the first couple hours of your time together trying to decide what to do!
Second, be discriminative.
In other words, take into account the fact that you have a limited amount of energy and limit the time you spend with people and in draining activities.
This doesn’t mean to cut out everybody who gets on your nerves sometimes or to completely abstain from loving and investing in people who are draining, it just means you need to limit these interactions.
Remember while it may seem “selfish” at first, being discriminative means when you do choose to spend time with draining people or in draining activities, you will be able to be fully present.
Being discriminative also means choosing activities that give you the greatest amount of fun, friendship, and fulfillment for the least amount of energy. For me, this means choosing to hang out with a small group of friends doing something relaxing (a.k.a. something allowing me to be with other people without having to be constantly socially engaged) like watching a movie, going for a hike, or doing crafts.
Third, make time for you.
Set up dates with yourself. It may sound a bit strange, but set up several time blocks each week where you put aside your to-do list and do something you truly enjoy to recharge your body, your mind, and your spirit.
To make it easier, try cutting squares out of index cards and writing activities you love, such as going for a bike ride or a hike, doing a craft, taking a bubble bath, doing or getting your nails done, reading a great book, journaling or writing. Put the squares into a cute container – perhaps a decorated mason jar – and pick one out to do on each of your “dates.”
When you are tempted to skip your date with yourself because you feel like there are million things you need to get done, think of yourself as a cell phone or a laptop. If you don’t give yourself a chance to recharge regularly, you will eventually be forced to recharge for a long period of time whether it is convenient for you or not.
In the end, the key to having a fantastic and fun summer without becoming overwhelmed or completely drained of energy is finding balance.
If you plan appropriately, choose wisely, and adhere to your priorities, you won’t have to choose between having your friendships or yourself stretched too thin.
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