SAD girl Summer
Sun’s out and the sky is shining. Everyone loves summer… right?
For some people, Summer feels like the season of dread. If this is you, keep reading to learn more about what causes these feelings of summer stress and mental health tips to help make this summer a little bit more comfortable!
5 things about summer that might bring on the Big SAD
You might expect summer to be a universal mood booster, right? In the season of concerts, sleeping in and sunbathing, what could be a trigger for mood distress? As it turns out, a number of things- and you’re definitely not alone in feeling stressed out and totally over summer already.
- The heat and humidity makes it difficult to enjoy being outdoors.
- Changes to schedules disrupt your routines and make the days unpredictable or stressful.
- Added stress from trying to plan for travel and change or the additional financial expense of summer events.
- Lots of pressure to “relax” and “have fun” to other people’s standards.
- Higher pollen counts can increase histamine levels and cause dysregulated emotions.
How Common is Seasonal Affective Disorder in Summer?
Summer is a season of high energy that’s often associated with less work, more play, and days in the sun. But those things aren’t enjoyable for everyone and if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of people who feel completely overwhelmed, overstimulated and over the summer heat, you are not alone!
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called SAD, is thought to impact about 6% of Americans with around 10% of those affected during the Spring and Summer months. By the numbers, it’s not super common to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder but you’re certainly not alone if you’re feeling some type of way about the rising heat.
Is SAD just depression?
The acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder can lend itself to feeling like the whole experience is depression in the more stereotypical form. You may expect that SAD in any season will feel like, well, sadness. But it does not.
Seasonal mood disorders have many facets, just like other mood disorders. Your moods may be affected by feeling more sadness or loss of interest in your activities. But that’s not all! SAD may manifest as increased frustration, stress, overwhelm, rapidly cycling moods or more. During Summer, anxiety is a likely manifestation of this type of mood dysregulation.
Summer SAD has different symptoms than other seasons
The sizzling temps and thick air can contribute to a sense of being trapped even in wide open spaces. When the temperature rises outside, your body may require more energy to help you keep cool and, in turn, leave you feeling burnt out and exhausted when you feel like you’ve not done much.
While winter Seasonal Affective Disorder is known to cause overeating, over sleeping and a general sense of malaise, summer SAD is likely to leave you feeling agitated, anxious and overworked. You may have heightened feelings of irritation, guilt or anger. It makes sense given they have different causes, but it can be frustrating when you’re trying to understand what’s happening and how to fix it.
We’ve got tips to help you cope
Now that you know what’s up with summertime sadness (hey Lana, thanks for the anthem) and why it happens, let’s get into the real important stuff. What can you do about it? These mental health tips can help year round but are especially important in summer if you’re feeling blue.
Seek cool and dark spaces when you’re feeling the heat
If you’re feeling agitated, overworked or overwhelmed this summer, take some time to lean into decompression in a dark and temperature regulated space. Turn the lights down low and keep fans or air conditioners running while you rest. Cool and dark spaces can help your body and mind both cool down from working hard, while also offering some relief from physical symptoms like migraines, dehydration and eye strain.
Prioritize sleep and rest
Longer daylight hours and more to do can leave you feeling like there are plenty of hours in the day, but not nearly enough at night. Struggling with sleep and rest can be the same thing but they aren’t always. If you’re finding that you’re not getting enough sleep, set a regular bedtime and do your best to stick to it at least 4 days a week. Ensure you’re stopping work and making relaxation a priority at least 2 hours before that time.
When rest seems in short supply, pick one day per week where you schedule nothing. Leave that day open to whatever moves you in the moment and honor your need to rest.
Consider using the cooler night hours to connect with nature
Love being outside but don’t dig the heat and constant sun? Use the evening hours to spend time outside. Watch the moonlight on the ocean, enjoy an evening walk or do yoga in the garden beneath the stars. Nature is just outside your door at all hours!
Honor your emotional experience in this season
Guilt is a heavy burden and it takes up a lot of your emotional energy. If you feel like you should feel one way or another about summer and you’re just not, that’s okay! Honor the reality of your emotions and reflect on the ways you connect with different seasons or weather patterns. You may find your connection is more deeply rooted in other seasons and that’s a beautiful thing to discover, especially if you can be with the emotional experience of this season without guilt.
No matter how you’re experiencing these summer months, we hope you’ve found these mental health tips helpful. If you or someone you love is experiencing substance abuse or looking for a new way to move through recovery, call us today.