By Dr. Samantha Rodman
It seems almost everyone talks about how depressed they feel during short, dark winter days, but very few people discuss feeling down during in the summer. Even though your friends may not talk about it as openly, plenty of people experience a funk in the warmer months as well. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with feelings of sadness, loneliness, or depression that strike in the summer.
For those who feel lonely or isolated, the summer can feel like a time when everyone else is having fun. It seems like everyone except you is hosting or being invited to pool parties and barbecues, using vacation time to travel to exotic destinations, or meeting new people to date.
Of course, this is rarely the case, just as it isn’t the case during the rest of the year. In the summer, though, social activities are much more visible, because they often occur outside and are blasted across social media. This can make people who are already anxious about their social lives feel left out and friendless.
Summer is also when people have a lot more free time. College or graduate students may have entire days that are unscheduled, and workplaces often allow more flexibility in the summer months.
For some, having a less regimented summer routine may feel wonderful. However, if you are someone who thrives on routine, a wide-open schedule can make you feel depressed or anxious. Many people who struggle with depression, anxiety, ADHD, and bipolar disorder all cope much better with a routine, which is harder to maintain in the summer.
Additionally, if you’re a student who returns to your family home during the summer, you may have increased levels of conflict with your parents.
There are plenty of other ways summer relaxation can be interrupted by stresses or anxieties.
For those with body image issues, putting on shorts or a bathing suit can be very anxiety-provoking. Also, weddings occur most often in warmer months, and these can be upsetting if you are single and don’t want to be, or if you’re having trouble within your own relationship or marriage.
Also, travel can be difficult for certain people, such as introverts, as well as people with depression, anxiety, and other disorders. The stress of packing, planning, and not having downtime or alone time can be almost paralyzing. Since a lot of travel occurs in the summer, it makes sense that travel anxiety would plague you from May to September.
1. Self-Compassion is Important
To survive a summer funk, it is first important to recognize what exactly is triggering unwanted feelings. No matter what the reason, it is important to show yourself self-compassion. Your reasons for feeling depressed or down are never silly or irrational. Give yourself the same empathy that you would show to a friend who was feeling bad.
2. Don’t Isolate Yourself
Also, it is essential not to isolate when you’re feeling down. Reach out to friends or family members and, if possible, share your feelings. More people may empathize with you than you realize. Other people may also be able to correct your mistaken assumptions about how much “everyone else” is enjoying their summer. Even if only one friend shares that they feel similarly, you will feel significantly less alone.
3. Create a List of Goals and Go For It
Writing a list of goals you’d like to accomplish during your summer can be motivating, as long as you ensure that your goals are moderate and doable. For instance, maybe summer is a good time to take a rock climbing class. But if your goal is to climb a mountain by summer’s end, this may not be attainable, and may end up making you feel worse when September rolls around.
Need More Support This Summer?
Summer is an excellent time to talk to a therapist. As mentioned, schedules are often more flexible during the summer, and seeking counseling at this time gives you a head start on a much better and more emotionally stable path in the coming year. Summer is not fun for everyone, but it’s important to work on yourself and end up in a stronger and healthier place.
Originally published at www.theladders.com.