As fall ends and winter approaches we hear a lot about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). This is more than just the winter blues (i.e. preferring to stay home and be cozy on a Saturday night, eating an extra bowl of pasta, or feeling lower energy than normal). SAD includes a physiological impact where the brain in unable to produce serotonin to regulate moods. It includes symptoms like total isolation and an inability to derive pleasure. Experts believe that SAD is a result of hormone changes and a lack of sunlight.
“So, what’s wrong me? “A client recently asked.
“It’s summer and there is tons of sunlight and I don’t feel good, I wish it was still winter.”
Let me start by saying, you are not alone. There is an expectation that come summer you should be glowing, posting pictures at the beach, and “living your best life.” It doesn’t help that there are curated versions of this all over social media.
The increase in SAD diagnosis and conversations about it has normalized the condition in the wintertime. But talking about feeling down in the summer makes you feel like an outlier.
Here is the thing: summer presents a lot of expectations, body image being the most obvious. Increased socialization (social anxiety is a very real thing), increased time spent with family (families can be crazy), increased financial pressure (traveling, eating out, etc.), and finally, loneliness.
Those who aren’t able to cultivate relationships as effortlessly become more disconnected in the summer.
Here are some easy tips to help break out of your summer funk:
1. Go the beach by yourself….just the sight of water immediately calms down the mind- and if you are able to go on a weekday to avoid the crowds, even better. Some great local beaches for NY’ers: - Rockaway (Beach 106, Fort Tilden, Jacob Reese) - Long Beach (Long Island)- LIRR to Long Beach
2. Get off social media. Delete it. Hide it. Stop looking at it. Create your own idea of what summer is supposed to look like.
3. Have a set time you wake up in the AM even if you don’t have anywhere to be- normalize your circadian rhythm by having a stable and consistent sleep schedule.
4. At least 15 minutes of sunlight a day outside. This is just as important in the summer as it is in the winter, just because it is sunny outside doesn’t mean it will protrude through your home. So be outside for at least 15 minutes a day…Even if it’s just to walk to the ice cream truck and stand outside and eat your ice cream, walk around your block, lay under the sun (with spf of course!), just get out there!
5. Pick one new hobby/skill that you will cultivate this summer. It’s never too late to say you will dedicate the next month to learning XYZ skill or exploring your passion for something. If anything at the end of the summer there will be one thing that you achieved even it was just learning more!
We are only in mid-July so it’s not too late to make some minor changes that will have major change. Take control over you summer and have fun!