Signs You Have the Summer Blues and Tips to Fix It
Everyone you know gets giddy at the thought of a grownups-only pool party or taking off work for a day at the beach. For you, though, just hearing about a summertime BBQ with the rest of the office or an outdoor music festival makes you anxious. You don’t enjoy the summer or even look forward to it arriving – which makes you different from everyone you know. You feel like there’s something wrong with you for not loving the summertime. What gives?
Your summer blues may be Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression that’s triggered by the change in seasons. While it’s most commonly associated with the wintertime, some people experience SAD during the summer. Since most people love the summertime and feel blue when it’s over, it can sound out-of-the-ordinary to experience depression when the sun is shining and the weather’s warm. That assumption is partly to blame, though – people with the summer blues version of SAD feel guilty for not enjoying such a phenomenal season, which only worsens their depression. Feeling this way can make it difficult to enjoy the activities you normally love and can get in the way of work and your relationships.
3 Signs of the Summer Blues
Wondering if you have SAD? Here are three common symptoms of the disorder. They may be signs that it’s time to talk to a professional who can help, and you may also want to discuss what you’re going through with your boss so he or she can provide support.
The Sunnier the Day, the More Zapped Your Energy
You’re not imagining it – sun exposure can affect your body’s melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate mood (and how well you sleep at night). If it increases or decreases more than normal, it could cause depression and sleepless nights. You don’t have to stay inside all season long just to avoid the sun, though. Head out on overcast days when the sun isn’t as strong. If you have to go out when it’s sunny, wear a hat with a wide brim and a pair of sunglasses. When indoors, either at home or at work, pull down the blinds or the shade to filter the sunlight.
Heat and Humidity Leave You Moody
You’re not alone in that! Plenty of people can’t stand being hot and sweaty when they’re trying to work, run errands or keep their home in order, and it’s especially problematic when you’re trying to enjoy your day with friends. Stay cool as much as possible. Carry cold water and a portable fan, shop for lighter clothing and spend time in places with AC. If your office always seems hot and it’s impacting your ability to work, ask your boss if you can work from home a couple of days a week.
You Never Feel Hungry
If you’re anxious about all the things you don’t like about summer, it’s likely that your appetite will decrease as your stress rises. You still need to eat, though – you’ll feel even worse if you don’t get the nutrition you need. Aim to eat small amounts of healthy food at specific times during the day. Even if you don’t feel hungry at the moment, you may feel better once you have some nutrients in you.
One more thing: maybe you just don’t like summer! If you’re not feeling depressed but you’re not ecstatic about the season, either, it could be that you simply prefer different types of weather. There’s nothing wrong with that! Embrace it and look forward to the fall, which will be here before you know it.
How to Work Through the Summer Blues
Whether you have SAD or you’re just sad that the summer’s here, there are ways to cope and get through the next few weeks:
Make a plan in advance:
You know that you start feeling crummy around June, right? Before it gets here, start preparing. Book a trip somewhere that’s not as hot or humid. For example, the West Coast has dry heat, which may feel easier to deal with than humidity. Plan indoor projects that will make you feel accomplished while you enjoy the AC. Take time off of work to have a staycation where you turn your blissfully chilled home into a luxury spa. You may even want to talk to your HR department to find out if you qualify for disability due to your depression.
Continue to prioritize exercise:
Exercise is like medicine for depression. If you want to exercise outside but don’t want to get overwhelmed by the heat, plan your workouts for the mornings or evenings when it’s cooler. You can also set up a home gym so that you can exercise where you’re most comfortable. If you have a gym at work, exercising for half an hour during your lunch break may improve your mood and help you return to work refreshed.
Surround yourself with comfort and things you love:
If you find that your mood dips more during certain times or days, figure out how to provide yourself with extra support to counteract those symptoms. For example, if your depression worsens during the work day, you may want to add family photos to your desk, stash your favorite snacks in a drawer or adjust your workspace so it’s more ergonomic.
Get plenty of sleep:
Few things make depression rear its ugly head as much as a sleepless night or several in a row. If you’re rested, you’ll start the day in a better mood. It’s also common for workplaces to offer flex time during the summer months – find out if you can come in late and work a little later than normal to ensure you get enough sleep.
Banish guilty thoughts:
The worst thing you can do is feel bad about feeling bad. Instead of punishing yourself for not being “like everyone else,” simply observe and accept how you feel, and then discover ways to help yourself.
Even if your depression has more to do with the 90-degree weather than a deeply ingrained issue, it may still be worthwhile to seek out professional help. Even summer blues that lasts for a few weeks from June through August is worth treating. You don’t have to suffer for one-quarter of every year. When you know SAD is around the bend, you can work on preventive healthcare with your doctor and work with your job’s HR department for any accommodations you may need.
There’s no rule that says you have to love the summertime. Heavy heat, sweaty bodies everywhere you go, and unforgiving sun rays can make it difficult to enjoy this time of year. If you think you’re struggling with depression, there are holistic and medical ways to treat it and start feeling better. If you just don’t like the summer, though, stop beating yourself up for feeling that way! Make the most of the season on your terms as you patiently wait for the temperature to drop.
This guest post was authored by Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer, mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader. And then dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons, without getting groans and eye rolls in response.