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- People tend to associate seasonal affective disorder with the winter months.
- This is often true, but people can be affected by it in summer too.
- There are a few reasons people can find themselves feeling down in the summer months.
- Here are the signs to look out for, and what you can do to try and combat the gloomy feeling.
When summer comes around, people generally seem to be in a better mood. But the sun doesn’t bring joy for everyone.
You might have heard of seasonal affective disorder as something that strikes people in the middle of winter when the days are short, dark, and gloomy. But according to David Brudö, the CEO and cofounder of the mental health platform Remente, one in 10 people who report having SAD say it occurs in the summer, not the winter.
He listed five ways the warm weather can get people down, which may contribute to them experiencing Summer SAD. Here they are:
1. Body image
Summer comes after a few months of covering ourselves up with layers, so our bodies can feel a little unfamiliar when the shorts and t-shirts come out – leaving us feeling anxious and even depressed.
“As warmer temperatures approach, we tend to alter our wardrobe choices, and opt for lighter clothes instead of chunky jumpers and jeans,” Brudö said. “This change of season can make a lot of people feel uncomfortable and more aware of one’s body image.”
The solution to this isn’t easy, and it takes a long time to build up confidence. But Brudö said it’s important to try and ensure that how you feel doesn’t restrict you in any way or become an obsession.
“Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable – this will help you feel happier in your own body, and being relaxed will help to ease any negative thoughts you may be having,” he said.
2. Extreme heat
While some people are positively reptilian and love to bask in the sunlight, for others it is a complete nightmare. Some people are much more comfortable in a cool air-conditioned house, watching TV or reading a book, rather than soaking up the rays.
“However, some people might feel anxious for not being outdoors in the sun as the summer months in the UK are few,” said Brudö. “Spending too much time indoors without fresh air and regular exercise, can leave you feeling tired, lazy, and even depressed.”
One way to combat this fear of missing out is by exercising. You can even go to the gym and get on the treadmill, or book in exercise classes, as these don’t require running around outside in the heat.
“A regular exercise routine can make you feel significantly better, as exercising produces endorphins, leaving us feeling happier, and improving things such as quality of sleep,” said Brudö.
3. Hectic schedules
Things can get on top of us during any season. But if you are prone to feeling anxious without a regular routine, summer can be particularly stressful.
“Children are on summer holiday and need entertaining, colleagues are on holiday and their handovers are piling up, and your sought-after vacation is disrupting your sleep and eating habits,” said Brudö. “All of this can lead to SSAD.”
One way to prepare yourself is to run through what needs to get done by making a to-do list and mark down what’s most important, according to Brudö.
“A clear to-do list will indicate the direction of the summer and will make the summer days run smoother,” he said.
4. Burning out
There’s nothing better than a summer evening. And when the days are longer, it’s tempting to stay out later than usual. But Brudö said this can easily lead to sleep deprivation.
“Sleep is the essential downtime our minds need to handle and process the events of the day, and a lack of it will lead the body to release more stress hormones, which can contribute to depression and increased emotional sensitivity,” he said.
“Practicing sleep hygiene will leave you feeling happier and make you more productive on a day-to-day basis, so try to go to bed and wake up at the same time that you normally would throughout the year.”
Sleep science has shown time and time again that consistency is key for optimum sleep. But if the light is messing with your rhythm, you can try black out curtains or meditation before bed to wind down.
5. Holiday envy
“Summertime, and the office starts to feel empty as colleagues go on holiday… every single person, it seems, except you,” said Brudö. “All you are left with is a pile of handovers and a social media feed filled with smiling faces on the beach, which can start to feel very isolating and depressing.”
It’s not great for your motivation when it seems like everyone else gets a holiday, but there are some ways to drown out the noise.
“Try to take a tech vacation, or a digital detox, to make you focus on what is around you, and to remove the constant negative feeling your social media feed is producing,” said Brudö. “To make the transition from switched-on to off, you should always make plans to do the things that you enjoy, like going for a run, seeing friends or going for a meal.”
If that’s too much, you can always try cutting back first and turning off your notifications for a few hours. You may find you enjoy how it feels.