Summer: a time for beautiful weather, vacation, and relaxation. Sometimes, it isn't always sunshine, and I want us to remember not to neglect our mental health during these months. The Summer months still come with risk for acquiring symptoms of Anxiety and Depression, potential body image concerns, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Some may assume that Seasonal Affective Disorder is only experienced in the Winter, but around 10% of all people who develop SAD have Summertime symptoms. Although many of us are able to enjoy some much needed time off, I think it is important to keep a few tips in mind to protect our mental health this season.
Why exactly do these mental health symptoms emerge during Summer?
This could be for a variety of reasons, but some common causes for poorer mental health might be:
Lack of Structure
Abnormal sleep schedule
Pressure to plan social activities
Pressure to have a "Summer Body"
Heat and humidity
Change from our usual routine
Given these reasons, what negative mental health symptoms should we be looking out for?
Changes in appetite, weight loss
Changes in sleep schedule
Withdrawal from usual activities
Increased stress or anxiety
Now that we know what to look out for and why these symptoms may occur, how can we battle negative mental health this Summer? I propose a few helpful tips. First and foremost, having structure during the Summer is crucial. This can mean carving out time to exercise, finding a job, scheduling a few times a week for social activities, or even finding time each day to engage in a hobby. Having some sense of routine may give control back, so that we feel purposeful and avoid listlessness. Second, while confidence may fluctuate, it is critical to remember that there is no such thing as a "Summer Body". There is no need to put pressure on ourselves to fit a certain mold. As long as there is engagement in activities such as eating and exercise that make you FEEL good, the rest is insignificant. Third, remember that there is no right way to enjoy Summer. We may feel as though we aren't doing enough, or having enough fun, but this is probably anxiety speaking. Anticipation is often different than reality, so let's try to set ourselves up for success and be mindful of enjoying this time as it is, not as we think it should be. Protecting your peace this summer is a priority. Finally, reach out. I know that each of these suggestions are easier said than done and may not get to the root of how we feel. No one should have to carry the burden of experiencing negative symptoms alone, and there are communities (like NAMI KDK) and professionals who are here to help you every step of the way.
If you are looking for extra support or resources during this time, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to speak to me directly, please contact me at email@example.com. 1 in 4 adults on average will experience a mental health condition each year, so please keep in mind that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
NAMI KDK and I are here for you! Let's work together to have a healthy and happy summer.