Are you ready for this Summer? Summer Solstice, the first day of Summer usually June 21st in the northern hemisphere is when the Sun is farthest north and the length of time between sunrise and sunset is the longest of the year.
Summer is usually associated with outdoor play, parks, beach trips and a time of recreation for school aged children enjoying their break from school. While most adults will still need to go in to work, some adults with children try to take some time off from work during the Summer to spend time with their children. Similar to the Fall/Winter holidays or festivities the Summer time can also be a time to bond and celebrate with family. Similar to the blues some people feel during the Fall/Winter festivities some people experience the blues during these warm months.
Let us look at a few triggers why you or people you know, may experience sadness or depression during the Summer time:
Loneliness: with an increase in hibernation during the colder months or people being more likely to celebrate indoors, socializing and witnessing others having fun may be less obvious. The warmer temperature tends to bring people out of hibernation and move celebrations outdoors. For people who may struggle with feelings of loneliness, see what appears to be happy people having a good time, can remind them of their own feelings. People dealing with the loss of a loved one may be prone to feeling lonely when confronted with seeing others indulging in activities they once shared with their loved one.
Body Image: warmer temperatures bring with it, less clothing or reduced layering. Some people are very self-conscious about how they perceive their looks and how they believe others perceive their appearance. This may trigger feeling uneasy in social settings that may involve the beach or a pool, certain outdoor sports or recreational activities, family vacation trips-- leading them to isolate themselves in the Summer months and/or feeling very embarrassed about how they look and their choice to isolate. They may experience feelings of guilt due to isolating themselves from activities they understand as pleasurable, which may serve to only fuel sadness, anxiety and/or depression.
Shift in Schedule: a non-Summer schedule that had to be put in place probably helps some people to cope with their existing depression or sadness. For example, parents who struggle with a mood concern may find it triggering when they have to now deal with the change in schedule with their children out of school. Having to now plan and make changes to a system they have become accustomed to can be a source of anxiety that exacerbates depression for them.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Summer Onset: maybe not as common, but just as how SAD in the Fall may be triggered for some with the decrease in sunlight moving to shorter days-- moving to longer days and increasing heat may trigger SAD in the Summer for some people. Longer days may trigger difficulties with sleep-- falling asleep and staying asleep for some people, and sleep is such a vital aspect of human functioning and mood regulation.
As you continue to learn more about yourself, explore if you notice differences in your mood during the warmer months. Also, try to become more aware of the challenges others may face when dealing with a shift from cooler to warmer temperatures.