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catching up with building hope

Making the most of your mud season recovery 

Each year as the chairlifts stop spinning and the snow departs momentarily, we transition into a more leisurely Summit County season. Like clockwork our busy jobs and crowded aisles at the grocery store begin to quiet, granting a temporary break from the tourists visiting our area. Whether you love it or dread it, mud season is upon us, and comparable to the irregular weather patterns of spring in the Rockies, this time of year can bring out mixed emotions and lingering mental-health issues. 

While a vacation camping in Moab after teetering on the edge of burnout for the final push of the ski season may sound enticing, decreased hours at work and bills piling up can also provoke feelings of stress and anxiety. Maybe your seasonal job has come to an end and the thought of committing to something new sounds daunting. Perhaps your lease has lapsed and the ongoing housing shortage has you tempted to relocate out of the county. Seasonal friends, roommates and coworkers often hit the road, switching a daily interaction into a social-media relationship. 

Burnout is a feeling of fatigue caused by constantly feeling overwhelmed. It’s a result of excessive and ongoing emotional, physical, and mental stress. Burnout happens when you’re overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with life’s continuous demands. Often caused by a job, Summit County burnout often matches the peak seasons of tourism with drastic adjustments between seasons. This combination of factors makes it difficult to switch speeds on demand. 

One goal we have at Building Hope this off-season and for Mental Health Awareness Month is to enjoy the small moments in our everyday life. This can change from person-to-person and vary each day. Personally for me today, I found joy in seeing a fresh tomato seedling appear though the soil, and a happy robin munching from my bird feeder. These small moments have big impacts in our daily lives and recognizing them helps with our mental health. 

Regardless of how you spend your mud season in Summit County, we can all relate to a desire to slow down the pace after a hectic winter season where burnout is common. However, adjusting to that momentum change is a challenge in itself. Here are some additional tips for a successful mud season while embracing the shift from chaos to calm. 

  • Take a break, rest, and spend your time doing more of the things you love 

Local athlete, author, and speaker Amy Purdy recognizes the benefits of giving your mind and body a break. According to her Instagram post about burnout, taking a break doesn’t make you lazy. In fact it means you are prioritizing your health and happiness. She says you can feel burned out because you are not doing enough of what you actually care about. “Doing your best” does not mean pushing yourself to the point of a mental breakdown. She also says you don’t need to do everything on your own … it’s ok to ask for help. 

It can be challenging for some to spend a lazy day at home or see less hours on your timecard from work. As a society we are trained to feel like we are failing if we are not constantly committed to our jobs and careers, but there is also plenty of evidence to show our productivity increases after a vacation or break. Mud season is the perfect time to plan a quick getaway, staycation, or mental-health recharge. There are diverse options to customize this break to your own desire, budget, hobbies and timeline. 

  • Set down your phone and turn off social media 

It is more common than not to spend our free time focusing on our phones and screens than observing our surroundings – and mud season can drastically increase our amount of free time. While our phones and the Internet do provide many benefits, we cannot ignore the negative impacts of this addictive pastime.  Social media provides many opportunities to enhance our daily lives, and not always in a truthful or positive way. By scrolling through various posts and stories feelings like FOMO (fear of missing out), jealousy, and unrealistic comparisons can arise- often with people who we don’t actually know IRL (in real life). These emotions can lead to depression, anxiety, loneliness, and more. 

Try to remember that these profiles, stories and posts are not the only way to represent your daily lives or activities. You can have meaningful experiences IRL without posting or sharing- try focusing on how you feel during the activity not how many “hits” your post about it may receive. Add a daily time limit to your apps or track your average weekly use. Even better- try taking a break from social media all together by deleting the apps you typically use from your phone for the off-season. If you miss them too much you can always re-install after you feel refreshed.  With your open schedule during mud season, plan an outside gathering with a friend to get some sunshine and Vitamin D. Hop on your bike for some exercise or volunteer with a local organization. 

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  • Order a mocktail and sober your mind 

There is a movement that is becoming more popular at restaurants, bars, and social gatherings- mocktails. These “zero-proof” cocktail-styled drinks are made without alcohol while still portraying a fun appearance and including the consumer in the festivities. We live in a culture where alcohol is represented at most special events, holidays, or social gatherings. Residents of Summit County have an additional challenge working service industry jobs and constantly interacting with vacationers. 

The definition of sobriety is a mental state free of jesting or trifling. With the increased time on our hands during mud season, being in “vacation-mode” or simply pure boredom- there are numerous opportunities to numb the fluctuating emotions of mud season. While a few drinks can temporarily ease the anxiety or depression from a smaller paycheck- it doesn’t fix your problem and actually increases the “jesting and trifling” of your mind.  Attending a social event or night out with friends sober can be arduous but also provide a new perspective. Perhaps you will sleep through the night better, feel more refreshed in the morning, or feel more productive with a clear mind.

Regardless if you want to try your next social event alcohol-free, save it for the weekend, or give it up completely, mocktails can help ease that transition. Try to remember you don’t owe anyone an explanation of why you are ordering “zero-proof” and to support your friends and colleagues when they opt for a mocktail at dinner. Also, if you are finding it hard to cut back or stop, reach out for help. 

Comparable to a sunny 60-degree day followed by 8 inches of fresh snow the next- mud season emotions may feel a bit manic and fluctuate daily. It’s important to focus on the things you can control (your daily social media usage- not the weather!) and embrace the quiet off-season, appreciating the small moments of our everyday life that often pass us by. 

In honor of May, Mental Health Awareness Month, join us for a fun night of laughing and comedy May 26th at the Pad in Silverthorne with comedian Adam Cayton-Holland. Laughter is strong medicine for the mind, body and soul, releasing endorphins and lowering stress levels. Tickets and more information here https://buildinghopesummit.org/.

This May we encourage you to prioritize your Mental Health by resting your body and mind, unplugging from a fabricated online reality, and sobering your mind with a “mocktail.” Remember that soon the visitors will be back as we transition to the next busy season and we will miss these quiet moments.

Article by Alyse Piburn, special projects writer for Building Hope Summit County. If you have a story to share, reach out to her at alyse@buildinghopesummit.org.
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