Ok, talking about mental health is the only way to blame it and work towards a better future.
You’ve heard of winter blues, right?how is summer Blues?
This time of year is culturally associated with sun, fun and barbecue, but it can be exhausting and difficult for some.
Summer blues is a form of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a condition that affects about 20% of the American population. To give some background and context:
- People who suffer from SAD are sensitive to natural variations in temperature and light that can cause emotional distress.
- People who live farther from the equator are more likely to experience SAD in the winter, and people closer to the equator are more likely to experience SAD in the summer.
- In winter, SAD usually causes overeating, weight gain, and hypersomnia. In the summer, SAD usually presents with decreased appetite and insomnia. Both can cause intense depression, anxiety, irritability, and agitation.
About 10% of people who suffer from SAD experience symptoms in the summer. While this only affects a small percentage of the population statistically, it should be noted that suicide rates are highest in the spring and summer.
Looking back on my own life, things started to make more sense when I found out about Summer’s SAD.My most serious battles with depression and thoughts of suicide started mostly in June. It happened during the month of August.
my most challenging summer (long time)
This year has been particularly challenging. The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have increased anxiety and encouraged (self) isolation.
Protests against racial injustice and inequality have (understandably) dominated the media, but many feel dejected and disillusioned.
With millions at risk of eviction, small business owners are seeking much-needed relief.
That said, much is going on without fighting SAD.
how it feels
Has anyone ever asked you what it means to feel anxious? This scenario is the first one that came to mind.
Imagine that you are going on a date with the celebrity of your dreams and she is waiting for you at a restaurant. On your way there you reach an apartment. You don’t want them to think you’re setting them up: this is your one-shot! I can feel the beads of sweat running down my forehead…
There are days when I wake up in the morning and have panic attacks from the moment I open my eyes.
And worst of all, everyone around me seems to feel the exact opposite, enjoying the summer sunshine and carefree time with friends at the ‘beach’. .
And here is the usual effect for me:
My sleep is disturbed, my appetite is suppressed and I struggle to maintain a regular eating plan…admittedly a little grumpier than I’d like to be.
Of course, others may have more impact, but this is the gist for me.
As I said earlier, this has been the most challenging summer for me in a long time, but I will never give up! There is always hope and action!
Depression and anxiety are nothing new – they suck – but here are 5 ways I’ve found to manage SAD in the summer and make the most of every moment!
5 ways to overcome grief
1) transition to a morning exercise routineThe importance of understanding the relationship between physical and mental health cannot be overemphasized. It’s very difficult to exercise when you’re feeling down, but that’s when getting more serotonin is most important! We need to get our blood pumping and we feel most powerful in the morning (of course , after being fully awake). So shift your routine into the morning and get active outside to a) beat the heat, b) soak up your vitamin D, and c) set you up for the rest of the day.
2) Review your dietIt’s important to know what (and how much) you eat and drink when you’re struggling with mental health issues. We are unaware of the unhealthy habits we are picking up because we may feel good in the moment. For me, it’s about binge eating before bed (so I can sleep), a habit that took me years to get over.
In terms of diet, I enjoy the Mediterranean diet. Especially during the summer months because there are so many fresh, flavorful foods to energize both your heart and your brain. It’s also flexible enough to accommodate frozen vegetables and canned foods, making it a lot easier to maintain your nutrition as you don’t have to prepare packaged fresh foods.
3) Find ways to make life easierSee, running with little sleep makes it hard to keep up with day-to-day life. So find ways to remove as many stressors from your life as possible. Sometimes I know the plates will pile up, so I switch to using paper plates and plastic utensils. I was able to rearrange my budget so that I could afford to pay $75 a month to take care of my home. This was very helpful. And all it cost me was eating out less that month. For you, it might be finding a meal preparation company. Prioritize and spend wisely when you’re struggling mentally.
4) Set and maintain boundariesBoundaries are important to positive mental health in our personal and professional lives, so it’s important to clearly define and protect them. I’m having a hard time leaving. But this summer, I intentionally went online less often on the weekends in order to take some time for myself and tend to my needs. You can stay focused on yourself instead of what’s going on around you. Comparing your life to others on social media is one of the most common traps that can lead to frustration and affect the boundaries you set for yourself.
5) Be proactiveWe all need to have a mental health crisis response plan so we have a failsafe to fall back on when things get tough. Call your friends. Schedule time with a therapist or psychiatrist. If you need medicine, make sure it’s always on hand. And maybe even a few affirmations or prayers you can say to remind yourself of your worth. I was. you should too
Summer or winter, with or without SAD, practice kindness.
One thing I’ve been reminding myself to do is treat yourself with grace. Please be slow to criticize or criticize how I am coping mentally during this unprecedented time in history. Celebrating soon as I celebrate the smallest way I am overcoming summer SAD on a daily basis.
So when we say “practice kindness,” it should start with ourselves. It’s difficult – some say impossible – to show genuine compassion to others if we don’t offer the same to ourselves.
If you’re still struggling this summer, consider seeing a doctor or talking to someone you trust. This is because, in most cases, the person you reach out to appreciates your sincerity and gives you more grace than you think.
I received a random text from a friend last night. If you want to take his word for it, he says:
“Something keeps telling me to check on you. How are you?”
And that simple text alone put the biggest smile on my face. To be honest, I’ve been feeling that weight quietly lately. I’m not sure how he found out, but I’m glad he checked in and found out.
Again, talking about mental health is the only way to remove mental health stigma and work towards a better future.
So let’s do it together.
If you are really distressed and need to speak to someone immediately, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or their live chat here.
Much love and God bless you!