Remember when summer vacation was all about bonfires and banana splits? When you could stay up late counting fireflies, and wake up in the afternoon? If you’re now working a fulltime nine to five gig, then those days probably feel like a very distant reality. Working eight hour days in an office environment can really take its toll on your morale during the summer months. The sun is shining, kids are playing outside, and you’re stuck in your cubicle filing last month’s reports. Fortunately, whether you’re interning for the first time, or have lived the daily grind for years, there are things you can do to enjoy your summer as a young professional.
Adjust your hours. If possible, try changing your schedule around so that you can leave the office early. Just because you live the “nine to five lifestyle” doesn’t mean you can’t work from seven to four or six thirty to three thirty. If you start your day earlier than usual, or take a short lunch, then you can head out of the office (and into the sunshine) even sooner. Check with your boss to see what kind of flexibility is offered.
Adjust your weekend. You can take a long weekend—every weekend—by working four 10 hour days. If your supervisor is cool with it, working long hours Monday through Thursday can allow you to take Fridays off. This means an entire extra day can be spent out on the lake, at the golf course, or in your backyard with a good book.
Be active on your days off. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that summer weekends are all about relaxing and “vegging out.” Although the cooler months are perfect for curling up with a blanket and a cup of coffee while watching Netflix marathons, summer is all about making the most of your weekends by getting active, going outside, and taking advantage of the nice weather. Depending on where you live, there are likely many outdoor activities that are best done over the summer months. Rent a kayak, go for day hikes, or take a weekend camping trip. These activities come at a low cost, get you moving, and allow you to spend more time with nature. Going outdoors can have wonderful benefits because you’ll be exposed to natural light (which can boost your mood), and often prompts you to be physically active. Even if outdoor recreation isn’t your thing, spend more time outside by utilizing the patio at your favorite restaurant, or by visiting an outdoor mall.
Go on vacation. Take a break from work, and just enjoy the season. You don’t have to travel across the country to get away. You can take a long weekend at a national park, stay at a lakeside resort, or visit some local attractions in your area. The key is simply to enjoy the weather and get your mind off the office. Sometimes the easiest way to do that is to physically get away from your corporate headquarters.
Change your mind set. Sometimes the best things in life truly are the little things. Working fulltime often means sacrificing mid-day grocery shopping, taking a walk in the park at ten in the morning, and going for long drives when the roads aren’t busy. It means you might have to miss out on a Tuesday night bonfire because you have work in the morning. It’s easy to feel down when summer “vacation” is anything but. The most effective thing you can do to improve how you feel is to adjust your mind set. Always remember that having a job (a fulltime job, no less!) is not only a great accomplishment, it’s a privilege that a lot of people are struggling for in this economy. You may have to miss out on that bonfire, but at least you can pay this month’s rent with minimal stress.
Take a risk. If all else fails and you still feel absolutely miserable at work, maybe it’s time to do something crazy and take a summer off to hike the Appalachian Trail or immerse yourself in a foreign culture. Or maybe finding happiness is about taking a part-time job so you have more time for your passions. Remember that life is short and beautiful. If you’re unhappy, do something to change it.
Working over the summer months can be a drag. It keeps you away from the lake and out of the sunshine. Even though it can be a tough adjustment to work fulltime over the summer, there are many steps you can take to be happier and healthier. Whether this means simply working four 10s or taking a thirty mile backpacking trip every other weekend is entirely dependent on what brings you joy. Find what makes you happy, then do it.