Summer is a much-hyped season of fun and relaxation, but in reality, many people suffer from increased anxiety and depression symptoms. This might seem counterintuitive, but there are several physiological and environmental reasons why summertime can worsen these conditions. If you notice you are having more trouble sleeping, are feeling down, or are keyed up and anxious during the summer months, you’re not alone.
People with anxiety disorders frequently notice their symptoms worsen during summer. About 10% of people who struggle with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in the winter also have symptoms in summer. Any time of year, it’s essential to talk to a mental health care provider if you are experiencing anxiety or depression symptoms. Along with professional help, lifestyle choices can improve symptoms.
Here are four ways to feel better during the summer months:
1. Create a Routine
One common reason for stress and anxiety in the summer (even among those without a diagnosed disorder) is a schedule change. Your kids may be out of school, and your work schedule or workload might change. Our brains love routine, and the anxious brain especially counts on it. Long summer days may leave you with more unstructured time, which your brain might fill with worries or tension. When you know what you are doing daily, your brain won’t worry as much, and you’ll expend less energy. Downtime is necessary, but it should be “scheduled” downtime. For example, you might plan to watch TV after dinner most nights.
Try to keep your bedtime, wake time, and meal times the same daily. This will keep your circadian rhythms on track even though the days are getting longer. You can use black-out curtains or an eye mask to help your brain know that it’s bedtime even when the sun is still up. Of course, doing different activities is part of summer fun, but your brain will stress less if it knows you will be going somewhere in the early afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
Try different levels of structure and see what works for you. For some, too much inflexibility causes more anxiety, while others thrive on a level of structure that the Marines would find annoying. Remember that you are the same person all year round, and if something doesn’t work for you in the winter, it probably won’t work in the summer either.
2. Prioritize Your Activities
It might help you understand your feelings about summer if you consider it similar to the fall/winter holiday season. During the holidays, many people find themselves with extra stuff to do and under pressure to be busy and have fun. For many, the result is that they have no fun and feel anxious and depressed.
Summer can also be a busy time. Between vacations and shuttling the kids to one activity after another, it might feel like you have no time to breathe. Again, there’s a pressure to have fun and not miss out. Most people find that they have more fun if they prioritize the most important things and don’t overload themselves. Taking the pressure off can also help you feel better. As long as you enjoy your summer, it doesn’t matter whether it looks impressive on social media.
Try making a list with your family of things you must do to have a good summer. Set a limit, say two things per month, or one big vacation and a couple of small outings. Making a list and scheduling things in advance can help you feel less anxious. You can look at your calendar and know that you will have fun but also have time to manage other areas of your life and relax.
3. Take Care of Your Health
Many people are so busy in the summertime that they put off doctor’s appointments or stop doing the self-care that keeps them feeling well at other times of the year. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, and managing stress are just as important in the summer as during the winter. If you meditate, make art, or journal to manage your anxiety and depression, keep doing those things even when other parts of your routine change. This can help you avoid experiencing worse symptoms during the summer.
Visiting your chiropractor may also help reduce your stress and anxiety symptoms. When your nervous system is impaired by spinal subluxations, it does not function optimally, which can affect your sleep and mental health. Adjustments will also help you feel less pain and stiffness after sitting in a car or plane on your summer vacation.
Making time to care for yourself and your mental and physical health is important all year long. If you schedule these activities for your summer, you will feel better and enjoy the season to its fullest.
4. Beat the Heat
People with anxiety are often sensitive to heat and humidity and find that it exacerbates their symptoms. Recreating outdoors in the morning or evening hours when it’s cooler can prevent this. Carrying a water bottle with you and ensuring your car’s cooling system works well can help mitigate anxiety symptoms when you are out and about in the summer. Activities that involve water are soothing for some people with anxiety and can help you cool off.
Don’t forget indoor summer activities like movies, aquariums, bowling, and dinner out. Let your friends and loved ones know you might need to take breaks from the heat when you are recreating outside. Cooling off for a few minutes can help you avoid panic attacks brought on by heat.
Holistic Healthcare in Kentucky
At Allstar Chiropractic, we provide spinal adjustment and nutritional and lifestyle advice to our patients. The body is a system, and we believe in treating the whole person. Schedule a consultation today to find out how we can help you have a better summer.