There is an expectation that summer is a joyful season filled with plenty of outdoor activities such as BBQs, beach days, and vacations. While getting plenty of sunshine may boost your Vitamin D exposure and promote a healthy body, the summer heat can cause many people to be anxious and irritable. Furthermore, for those who suffer from depression, more time in the day isn’t a bonus.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of major depressive disorder that is typically more prevalent during the winter. However, with social activities in abundance coupled with long sunny days there are many that experience Summer-Pattern Seasonal Affective Disorder. This can cause you to have low energy levels, insomnia, and lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy. Even if you are someone who doesn’t have depression, you can still go through a less severe version of seasonal warm-weather mood changes which is often referred to as summertime blues.
So, how do I know if it’s SAD or just the summertime blues?
While they both have similar symptoms, SAD is more severe and associated with symptoms of major depression. The first step to discovering what to do when experiencing any type of distress during the summer is to identify your triggers. This could be feeling gloomy from disrupted routines, feeling like the heat is intolerable, the longer days and shorter nights affecting your sleep schedule, financial stress due to vacations or more child care, or even social anxiety due to more planned outings. Whatever it may be, make a list and then identify what your core values are in your day to day routine to help you get back on track. This could be anything from eating healthy, having a morning routine, exercising, or spending time with loved ones. Then spend time fulfilling one of those core values per day to create stability in the chaos that summer may bring.
Activities for the Summertime Blues and SAD
- Establish a routine and build self care
Make space for your emotions and have time carved out in your day to feel your feelings. Start with a basic morning routine, and if helpful write things down in a planner or memo
- Keep things cool and stay hydrated
Escape the summer heat and find a place to hangout indoors with AC such as a movie theater or the mall.
- Get exercise
In spite of the heat, staying active can help you keep up with your daily routine. If it helps, try changing things up by finding a place indoors to workout in such as a gym or indoor swimming pool.
- Take a social media break
Staying unplugged from your phone or computer, can help to ease anxiety, envy, and depression. Instead go on your own adventure! Spend some time by yourself with a loved one doing something you may enjoy. Whether it is going to a new restaurant, a hike, or even cooking a new recipe.
Make sleep a priority, to improve your mood and energy levels. If you are experiencing insomnia try using relaxation aids such as apps that promote relaxation, white noise machines, watching ASMR videos, or reading a relaxing book
Summer-Pattern Seasonal Affective Disorder can be particularly difficult especially when society deems it as unusual to be gloomy on a warm, sunny day. Try these activities to help improve your mood in the summer, and if you are still feeling symptoms of depression or anxiety that are harder to get through, seek professional help here at Pacific CBT. The therapists here can help you manage and identify any negative thoughts you may have. Schedule a free 15 minute consultation today.
About the Author: Ashley Carreon currently works as a Behavior Therapist in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and a minor in Psychology from University of California, Davis. Ashley is interested in understanding intersectionality in mental health, and is planning to pursue a Master’s degree.