The summer season is upon us, and it’s okay if that doesn’t have you jumping for joy.
The first few sunny and warm days of the season - when flowers are in bloom and people flock to the park, beach, or patio in droves - are supposed to be days of excitement and happiness. Sunshine is supposed to equal joy, isn’t it?
While warm weather, longer days, and more vacation time can make some people feel euphoric and free, it can make others feel agitated, guilty, and jealous.
If you have depression or just aren’t feeling particularly happy, the sunshine and all the people off on fun-looking adventures can make you feel even worse.
If you stay inside when the sun is out, you may feel as though you’re wasting the good weather, you may have FOMO, or you may be frustrated that part of you genuinely does want to go outside but you can’t seem to get yourself out of bed.
These feelings of isolation and guilt can add to your poor mental state. If you experience this at all this summer, just remember that you’re not alone.
Summer Affective Disorder
About 10% of people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) experience their depression in the summer rather than the winter.
While winter depression can make people eat and sleep more, summer depression tends to make people eat less and have insomnia. This in turn makes them feel weaker and less excited about undertaking fun in the sun activities.
Heat and light are the main contributors to summer SAD, so try to keep yourself cool and stay away from harsh light if you're feeling depressed this summer
If summer is getting the best of you, try to limit the amount of bright light and heat in your home. Close the blinds, get light-blocking curtains, and invest in an air conditioner (or two).
Plan to get some exercise or go out to see friends in the morning when the temperature is still relatively cool. This will help give you those feel-good endorphins and make you feel less isolated while also potentially raising your energy levels for the rest of the day.
And instead of trying to meet your friends’ high energy activities like hiking and partying, plan some lowkey activities that you’d enjoy - whether they’re considered weather appropriate or not. Do something quiet and creative, go to a movie, walk around an air conditioned museum, or watch a play.
It's not a competition
With social media being so pervasive in our lives, it’s hard not to feel like we’re constantly missing out on something or competing over who can snap the coolest photos, especially in the summer months when there’s always someone away on a dream vacation.
Sometimes the pictures are so beautiful and the captions are so witty that you start longing for something you've never actually really liked or wanted before. In these moments, remind yourself that it’s okay if you don’t love camping or snorkeling.
If all of your Facebook friends are posting pictures of themselves with giddy smiles at an outdoor music festival, be happy for them while knowing that not being in a loud, crowded, sweaty environment is the best call for you at the moment.
You may choose to stay at home for your whole vacation catching up on reading, Netflix binging, and that project you started last year but never had time to finish. It’s okay if you don’t go flitting off to Spain this summer, regardless of how many of the people you follow on Instagram do.
Don’t force yourself to do something because you feel like it’s what you’re supposed to do simply due to the time of year. This is true every season, but there’s something a little pushy about summer that can make it incredibly fun when you’re in a particular frame of mind and kind of nightmarish when in another.
Do what feels best for you - in mind and body - and remember that this season too shall pass.
If you need someone to talk to,