High summer is one of my favourite times of year - the days are long and light, it harkens back to weeks and weeks free from school and responsibilities, everyone seems a lot more open to the idea of heading to new places and trying new things. In the spirit of 'making hay while the sun shines', we make plans and fill up our diaries with exciting things to make the most of the good weather. For the time that we have it, summer seems to create a permanent good mood in Britain.

So it can be hard, sometimes, to admit that all of this merriment can be a little draining. Whilst I love being with my friends and family, being outside, visiting new places and having full and fun weekends, I am also an introverted personality. That means I find time in large groups of people can be draining, and I find social situations a little stressful sometimes. Not always amongst good friends, but definitely amongst acquaintances and people I haven't met yet. As an only child, I also really value my 'me time', but find it difficult to ask for. Couple all this with a group of friends you love and the too often felt 'FOMO', and summer can be one of the most tiring months in terms of looking after yourself.

Here's some tips I've found useful to keep in mind:

1. Self care is a plan, too: And a viable one! It's also one of the easiest things to overlook, so whatever it takes - a note in your diary, even a private appointment in your Outlook calendar - make sure this is scheduled in and don't break the plan with yourself. I'm terrible for pushing this time back when a 'more interesting' offer comes along, but honestly, if you're an introverted personality type the moments you take alone with yourself are so crucial to what you can bring to family & friends outings. No one wants to spend time around me when I'm feeling drained, agitated and twitchy.

2. You can take 'alone time' together: This, I've found, is very tricky to master outside of your significant other, if you have one, as people can take this the wrong way - I often carry a book with me to picnics, family holidays, even work. Sometimes I just need half an hour to fall into a chapter of a book and some quiet, and then I'll feel 'recharged' and can hop right back into summertime festivities. My boyfriend and I like to read alongside one another - him with his book, me with mine. It's nice and special, we feel connected but not like we have to be completely focused on one another. In a group setting, picnics are great for a little time to read, or a wander through the surroundings in your own thoughts. Just don't go wandering too far or getting lost... That's not what we're about.

I empathise with how difficult it can be to ask for that alone time amongst friends, especially ones you might not know too well, but try and make it light-hearted: 'I think after all the excitement of the afternoon, I'm going to have a little wander! Won't be long.' Usually works a treat.

3. Vary your plans: If you know you have a big weekend coming up with back-to-back social gatherings, make sure you spend quality time at home or wherever feels best to you both before and after the weekend. That can be as simple as running through a pamper routine, curling up in front of Netflix on the sofa, or clocking in some hours at the gym or on a run - wherever you get your energy from, indulge in it!

4. Get on top of your shit: For me, one of the most stressful things about frequent socialising is how often I'm out of the house, and things can get quickly messy or uncared for at home. I'm a real homebody if I let myself be, so even when I'm outside of my house, if I know there's mess or I haven't cleaned, I'll be stressing about it. So I try to take some time, if I know I'm going to be busy or away from home, to sort out my space and get it looking in tip-top shape, so I always have a haven to come back to.

5. Finally... ENJOY: Summer does come but once a year and, as tiring as it can be sometimes, I still absolutely love it. Make the most of this time before the colder months come rolling in and everyone wants to be indoors - introverts need sunlight, open spaces and greenery just as much as everyone else. If you're struggling to find ways to enjoy your summer, why not suggest a plan of your own to friends and family yourself - find something you've always wanted to do, or a place you've always wanted to visit, and tick something off your list. Exploring plans are great if you don't want to feel pressured into making conversation - head to a National Trust site or a museum. Great for reflective, quiet time! If you need inspiration, try one of my 'If You Do One Thing...' posts!

A slightly different one from me today, but I hope it was helpful! Enjoy what's left of this gorgeous season, and I hope whatever you get up to, it's fulfilling and joyful for you. 

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