How Summer Impacts Mental Health & How to Manage It
Summer is arguably the happiest season of them all: the longer days, the warm temperatures, the frequent getaways. These elements really spell out the fact that in summer is when people are at their happiest and most active, ready to tackle each day with newfound energy. But is that truly the case?
When it comes to mental health, one thing that rings true for a lot of people is the fact that mental issues won’t take a break just because you would like them to. Which means that you can’t put mental health problems on hold once summer rolls round, even with the pressure of actively enjoying the warm weather. It is actually in the summer that a lot of people might notice a spike in their depression or anxiety because of said pressure.
How is summer a catalyst for mental health issues?
Amongst the reasons why summer might be a difficult time for some is the fact that warm weather is equivalent to going to the beach and showing more skin. Because of years and years of clever marketing meant to prey on people’s insecurities, there is a misconception that certain clothes or lifestyles are reserved for people who look a certain way. In the summer, a lot of people become critical of themselves and as a result, they hold back from fully enjoying themselves. These negative feelings often lead to exercise binging and extreme dieting, which in turn can take a toll on mental health.
The pressure to be social
With summer you get longer days and with longer days comes more energy to do fun and social things. But that doesn’t apply to everyone – not even social butterflies. And you might find that there are a lot more events going on all the time, especially at the weekend. You might feel pressured to be present and social, especially since you don’t want to miss out on what your friends are doing. This could lead to you burning out on all things social, which will, in turn, make you shut off for a while.
Lack of routine
Although this is not true for everyone, especially depending on what industry you work in, it is possible that during the summer, you will notice a distinct lack of routine. What’s more, if you have children, you might find that you need to make some changes in your daily life. Either way, this can make you feel a lack of balance and you might end up not knowing which activities to sacrifice or what to focus on. When you feel disorganised, your mental health could be affected.
We’ve all done it: scrolling social media and feeling jealous because other people are being active, having fun every day, attending glamorous parties and trying new things all the time. Not to mention that summertime comes with a whole other range of posts about the perfect beach body and how to obtain it. When you are exposed to content like this every day, it is easy to compare your own life to theirs and to feel like you are failing at having the perfect summer.
How to enjoy summer
Looking back at all the catalysts for mental health issues during the summer, it is easy to get discouraged. But there are things you can do to take the pressure off yourself and approach these problems with a different mindset. Bad days will be just that – bad days. Mental health can be challenging to navigate, especially when so many external factors are posing new problems. Below you can find a list of tips and changes that can be a great help when you are struggling.
Creating new habits
The lack of routine, the free time and the longer days can negatively impact you in their own ways – but they can also become a great ally. This is the perfect time to start implementing new habits. And even if you end up only sticking to one, that is still incredible progress and a great help for your mental health. Amongst these habits, you can opt for things like:
- Meditating each day and practising mindfulness;
- Making sure you get up early and eat breakfast each morning;
- Trying out new workouts, such as yoga or weightlifting;
- Finding a new DIY hobby.
The list goes on, and you are free to try any of these. The pressure to keep busy can be quite high, so you can always go for something that you can spread out rather than feel forced to do every day.
This piece of advice refers both to socialising with your friends and to social media in general.
When it comes to social activities, try to take some of the pressure away from yourself. It might seem like you are missing out on things, but it is essential to make sure you are enjoying enough ‘off time’, especially if being out and about leaves you mentally exhausted. Don’t feel like you have to attend every event!
Opening up to your friends about mental health can be daunting, but if you feel comfortable enough to do so, you definitely should. You might find that they are far more supportive than you expected, and they might even consider rescheduling events so that they can still include you. And don’t forget – mental health struggles aren’t always visible. It is possible that your friends are dealing with their own issues.
As for social media, previously we outlined the reasons why a constant stream of people living ‘their best lives’ might take a toll on your mental health. It is important to realise that often, influencers will choose only to present the best aspects of their daily routine. And this applies to their fitness routine as well! You should unfollow influencers and brands that try to sell you ‘miracle diet’ products or make you feel bad about your body. Curate your feed so that you are following inspiring and positive role models. In this article, you can read more about the role of social media in the wide world of fitness.
A lot of people are aware of the health and lifestyle benefits that exercise brings, but there are quite a few mental benefits as well. It has been proven that exercise can help you sleep better, it can improve your mood and it can lessen certain symptoms of depression and anxiety.
It is important to campaign for the benefits of exercise and being active, but unfortunately, this is very often done at the cost of people’s self-esteem! This is where it becomes clear that the goal, in this case, is to benefit from insecurities rather than raise awareness.
Nevertheless, if you want to implement a lifestyle change and find what feels good for you in terms of working out or generally being more active, there are various ways to go about it. You can start by implementing exercise into your daily routine, or you can jump straight onto the weights. No matter what you choose, you will find that exercise can be an incredible mood booster. If you would rather not sign up to a gym right away, you can take up running or other types of outdoor exercise, or you can work out from home. There are plenty of resources online, and we have also published a wide range of workout guides.
And if you are just embarking on this remarkable new journey, feel free to bring a friend along! You might find that it’s better for your mentality to exercise with a partner.
It is essential to realise that food is not inherently good or bad. Despite what thousands of ‘miracle diets’ and ‘detox teas’ tell you, you shouldn’t be labelling your food this way. You need to make sure you are eating enough to give you energy throughout the day. Don’t substitute everything with low sugar, low fat, no dairy and no gluten items! Unless you have an intolerance, you shouldn’t be giving up entire categories of food. It’s summer – so enjoy an ice-cream or a milkshake. Don’t miss out on having a good time with your friends. Food can be social and comforting, and there is no reason to deny yourself of that.
And there you have it – our tips and tricks to make sure that you are making your summer as enjoyable as you can. Don’t put yourself down for having ups and downs when it comes to your mental health, as these things happen to a lot of people, all the time. As you can see, it’s always important to look after your mental wellbeing, and that is still the case in the summer – sometimes even more so. Remember to be kind to yourself and to reach out for help when necessary!
Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.
If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.