This is a picture of my favourite summer view, at home.
This is my view when I am sitting on my back deck, looking up through the summer banners and through the tiny green leaves and tangled branches of the Sunburst Locust tree to the sky. When I am looking up like this, it reminds me of all the times in my childhood when I lay on my back on the grass, contemplating the sky and daydreaming. Those visions of the sky are always a balm to the spirit in the depths of winter – and in the depths of academic overload.
It is because this view is so calming that this week, as part of preparing for the academic year, I will suggest to my patients that they take a picture of their own summer view. Summer is a time of relaxation away from all the stresses that the school year brings. Even if we didn’t have studies that show this, those of us who work in youth mental health would know it from the fact that summer is the quiet time when you care for adolescents.
Images of a scene we love, when we feel well and happy, can help to reduce stress even when we’re just recalling that image, but being able to look at the image and recall the moment you took the picture brings the good feelings back in a much more visceral way. Try this right now – call to mind one image of your wonderful summer. If you have an actual picture of this moment, all the better. Remember how you felt when you lived this time and observe how this feeling causes that wonderful feeling to wash over you once again. That is instant stress relief!
If you’re still not convinced, here’s another great article with more reasons this works.
And here’s another image to help you imagine how this works.