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BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

Summer Activities to Support Your Mental Well-Being

Author: Shelby Prokop-Millar

The summer months can be a difficult time for graduate students, especially if one is wrapping up their degree. It is therefore important to take time for your mental health. I have gathered three different ways to support your mental health this summer; movement, outdoor time, and art.

Research has shown that exercise can be beneficial to one’s mental health. There are many summer activities that can help you get your body moving, such as biking, swimming, and canoeing. The City of Hamilton offers a bike sharing program that is available across the city. To utilize the bikes, one can download the mobile app and begin peddling. If you are more of a swimmer than a biker, the City of Hamilton also provides a list of indoor pools to enjoy throughout the city. If you prefer beaches, head down to one of Hamilton's beaches  and enjoy the waves. Speaking of waves, if you are more interested in staying dry but still want to enjoy the water, you can rent canoes through Element Canoe Rentals here in Hamilton.

A meta-analysis showed that spending time in nature can also improve one’s mental health (e.g., anxiety). Hamilton and its surrounding areas contain many places to enjoy the outside this summer. Waterfalls are abundant here, and include Felker’s Falls and Tiffany Falls, and there are also many trails to explore such as the Main Trail Loop through Dundas Valley Conservation Area and Bull’s Point Loop through the Royal Botanical Gardens. Put on some sunscreen, throw a water bottle and some snacks in a bag, maybe bring along a couple of friends, and enjoy some outdoor time!

Art, as a therapeutic approach, has shown to be an effective tool at building self-confidence and self-esteem. Whether or not you are an artist, engaging in art could be a great way to support your mental health. There are many ways you can incorporate art into your summer activities, such as chalk art, flower arranging, pottery, photography, and so forth. There are several tutorials online showing you how to eloquently design a floral arrangement. You could either go to a floral shop or perhaps grow your own flowers, to begin making a lovely bouquet. On Locke St South, there is Play with Clay a spot where you and your friends can go to learn how to make pottery. Learn something new this summer by signing up for classes to make charcuterie boards, wind chimes, and more!