Yes, summer sadness is a thing. It’s not just you. It’s not quite the same as winter SAD but summer can set off a whole ocean of conflicted or unhappy feelings. I’m no expert other than knowing how it is to feel underwhelmed by summer sometimes and definitely a winter SAD sufferer, so please add in all your own tips that you feel might help in the comments section.
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You’re just ticking along nicely, and along comes some good weather and sunshine and all routines go out of the window. If you’ve got young children, for example, try telling them it’s fine to go to bed in daylight. It just feels all wrong – I remember it felt wrong when I was a child! Early daylight can mean you wake earlier, disrupting your sleep so you don’t get quite enough each night. If you wake at a 5am dawn, your mind can easily go into overdrive, worrying and stressing. Tip: If you find yourself waking too early, pop on a podcast or watch a TV show on your phone or iPad with earphones. It’s brain custard we’re looking for here, not challenging viewing, to distract from negative thinking. The more you are prepared to just go with it with early waking and accept that you are resting if not actually sleeping, the more likely you are to nod off again or at least relax with the situation.
Instead of looking forward to going home after work, a warm spell can make you feel you should be out having an amazing time, drinking Pimms in cool outside bars or locating the nearest lido. Co-workers ask how you spent the gorgeous sunny evening and you’re embarrassed to say you watched Coronation Street as per, because it doesn’t seem quite worthy or interesting enough of a way to spend a ‘sunny’ evening. Tip: Don’t bow to competitive summeriness – say you made iced tea and leave it there. It’s nobody’s business but yours how you spend your time, unless you genuinely feel you’re missing out in which case, see Hopelessness at the bottom of the page.
The blessing of winter, despite the cold, is that you can harbour unshaven everything without even thinking about it under woollies and jeans. In summer, you’re positively expected to transform your top, middle, legs and feet into a walking beachwear shoot. Arms, legs, cleavage and toes are all expected to be bare, smooth and tanned and that in itself is a challenge if you feel self-conscious about your body. If you have particular body bugbears, facing your morning wardrobe can make you feel unworthy and bring safely over-wintered body worries leaping to the fore. Tip: A couple of maxi dresses are the answer to everything – the cover all your worries while looking completely right for the season. If the season has triggered bigger issues about your relationship with your body, acknowledge them as momentum to get help to tackle the feelings. Body acceptance is far more important than what you wear or whether your legs are a bit stubbly but feeling less self conscious about how you look while you tackle that will help. (Image from Hush HERE but Boden has decent options HERE ).
Feeling uncomfortably hot all of the time is horrible – it’s a very different thing to having a gentle warm breeze blowing over you on a beach to having to cope an with a daily commute in a country to which air conditioning is considered exotic. People deal with heat differently – some literally sail through it claiming to love the hot weather and bask like sharks at even a shaft of sunlight. For others, it causes worries about sweating, looking red and flushed and even exacerbating existing skin conditions. Tip: The reality is that all the water in the world won’t make you cold but you can take at least the edge off overheating. Carry a cold compress with you in a canvas bag that you’ve had in the freezer overnight. It will take you through your morning commute and if you have a freezer at work, you can top it up there. Have a cool shower before you leave the house, and invest in a cooling stick or spray. They’re momentary in effectiveness but it’s a good moment!
Social media does nothing to help the cause of those who feel sad in summer. Watching perfect people on perfect beaches wearing perfect bikinis having a wonderful time – no. Instagram isn’t a motivator when you’re feeling down – it serves up daily helpings of the life you feel you should have, the body you don’t have and the food you know you should eat but don’t. Knowing that it’s an illusion for the most part doesn’t help the feelings that you’re somehow missing out on something major, which in turn leads to feeling excluded from some secret wonderful life. Tip: If you feel emotionally wobbly in summer, disable the app for a couple of months or unfollow anyone that you know could trigger these feelings. You can follow them back when they’ve returned from a summer in LA or Ibiza or wherever. Use Twitter instead which is far less visual and be picky about who you follow or let into your timeline. You have to be your own happiness monitor on social. (Bikini mine, £26 ish, from M&S HERE).
Hopelessness is very close to helplessness. How do you unlock the fabulous summer life that everyone but you is having? It’s incredibly isolating to feel the whole world but you is having fun. The reality is that many people have these feelings so finding something over summer that you know you will really enjoy puts a kind of purpose to the months. So, whether it’s that you set yourself a five musical challenge (go see five musicals), a five museum challenge (self -explanatory from here!) or even try five cocktails you’ve never had before (not all at once obviously)… you will have achieved and experienced. Grow herbs in a window box or garden, enrol in summer classes, get a new recipe book and experiment with different foods… it doesn’t really matter what you do other than that you’re doing it. Tip: Achievements are key to battling feelings of not being able to help yourself during summer, and they absolutely do not need to be high achievements or noble experiences. You can kick climbing Kilimanjaro off the list! Smaller effort achievements absolutely count. Talk through with a friend or family member what are reasonable achievements for you during the summer and get planning – sometimes it’s just that little mindset switch that can take the edge of feeling hopeless in summer.
Important NB: Summer depression is real – if you’ve tipped over the edge from summer sadness to full depression and you’re able to recognise it as such, you need to seek help from your GP. The further reading below will help you understand the difference.
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