Most of us have heard of the winter blues but have you heard of summer depression? You might be asking yourself, "What’s that about?" Even though the weather is warm and a lot of us feel better in the summer, there are groups of people who don’t feel this way. In fact, for some, summer is the most difficult time of year.
Let’s discuss a few reasons why summer depression comes about.
1. It’s hot!
Increased heat and humidity leads some to feel more agitated and angry. I think we have all heard of news reports of higher incidences of road rage during heat waves. For others they feel sluggish. I know people who experience a feeling of overwhelm or anxiousness from overheating.
2. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
You may know SAD as the depression that occurs with people when the days get shorter, darker and colder in the winter months. For people who suffer from winter SAD they might use light therapy or seek out wintering in a warmer location. What you might not know is that there is a portion of SAD sufferers who experience it in the summer. About 10% of the people who have SAD have a summer trigger. Although the reason for this is not yet known, it does happen.
3. Everyone seems to be having a great time except you
Social media provides a long depiction of happy people frolicking in the sun, splashing in the water, camping, vacationing, barbecuing, etc. Whereas for some, they feel hot, sticky, miserable and stressed out. The comparison can be damaging especially when you feel like you should be happy and you’re not.
4. Change in routine
All of a sudden the kids are out of school, there are more outdoor events planned, and later bedtimes. For some, the change in routine can be extremely stressful and impede sleeping, eating and exercise routines. With all these factors changing, there can be a negative impact on mood.
5. Increased stress related to finances and/or health/fitness
As I mentioned, stress can increase when eating routines and exercise regimes are altered. This can also impact body image with lots of people in bathing suits and summer clothing. I know I plan to work on my summer body all spring and don’t! Fortunately, this doesn’t impact my self-image. There are others who can sink into a depression because of poor body image.
Additionally, we also see a lot of people vacationing at this time and this isn’t a reality for everyone. Still, some will stretch their means to vacation which compounds financial pressures and impacts our mood. If we don’t vacation we can feel disappointed in ourselves.
There are also people who work seasonal jobs and fear what will happen when summer is over. This worry can have a negative impact on mood.
What can we do about it? Here are four tips:
1. Stay cool
Try to spend time in shady, cool or air conditioned places. Seek out water. Not only is water cool and refreshing, it also has a soothing effect.
2. Be prepared
A. Dress appropriately (hats, sunglasses and light clothing), and pack cool snacks and lots of cold water. If you are going to hold an event, don’t plan it for the height of the hot summer day.
B. If having kids at home is stressful and you know ahead of time, register them into camps or time away with family or friends.
C. Book family functions when you have time to plan and carry out events without added stress or pressure. Remember, it’s okay to say no. Even if you always hold an August long family get together, it’s okay to tell people you aren’t this year.
D. Budget for vacations, summer activities and camps. Prepare for seasonal jobs. Financial pressure is a contributing factor to mood in many people’s lives. We don’t have control over the economy or job security. A budget is a plan you can have control over. I will admit, this is not my forte but there are many people out there who are amazing at this and have valuable information to share. There are also a tonne of great low cost or free summer activities. Getting away on limited monetary resources is a possibility. Extravagant vacations aren’t a possibility for everyone so try to make the most out of what you can afford. I heard a quote from someone: Don’t worry about what you are missing, try to make the best out of what is left over. I think this applies nicely here.
3. Maintain routine
To the best of your ability, try to keep a steady sleep, eating and exercise routine. This will help in many ways with your mood. Don’t overdo the exercise trying to meet specific image or body standards but do enough to reduce stress and maintain a routine your body is used to. This goes for your children as well. It’s great to have some down time but many children thrive on routine so setting one will benefit your children and, by extension, you as well.
4. Seek help
If you are struggling with summer depression, seek help. There are capable professionals out there, including me, who are here to assist.
Summer can be fun but depression can leave you feeling miserable. Figure out why you are feeling the way you are? Is it something on this list? Do any of the tips help? If not, reach out to someone in the helping profession.