Saturday, July 18, 2015

5 Tips to Conquer Summer Depression

Everyone’s excited about the fantastic weather.  The sky is gorgeous, flowers are beginning to blossom, invites to parties and barbecues are on the horizon, and people appear to be smiling more!  Happiness seems to be all around.  Hooray!  Summer is here!

Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) causes depression within individuals as seasons change, typically occurring as the days get shorter and colder (A.K.A. Winter).  According to Dr. Ian Cook, director of the Depression Research Program at UCLA, this can also occur in the summertime. In fact, the onset of summer triggers SAD in 10% of the population.

Now, for those of you that love the summertime, you may wonder why warmer weather would cause depression. Here are a few possible causes:

  • Holiday Travel – Taking some time to ‘kick back and relax’ can be extremely expensive. The added financial stress can put a major strain on both individuals and their loved ones.

  • Low Self Esteem – After months spent indoors with minimal physical activity, those who have gained weight may become self-conscious of their bodies.

  • Heat – Rays of sun beaming down in full force can be difficult for some people. To avoid the heat and humidity, they may take refuge in the comfort of their air conditioned homes. This can cause those individuals to fall out of their regular routines by skipping walks, ordering unhealthy fast food because it’s too hot to cook, allowing themselves to become consumed by T.V. and more.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Here are 5 tips to conquer your depression:

1. Seek Help – Being proactive about your emotional state is of the utmost importance. Even if your depression is only seasonal, the reoccurring impact can be devastating to you and your family. Find a therapist or counselor to help you come up with a viable solution.
2. Get More Sleep - Summer barbeques and late night parties result in shorter nights with less sleep. Make an effort to get to bed by 10pm, which not only helps your mental health, but your physical as well.
3. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise – Stay active! If it’s too hot, adapt your schedule accordingly by working out earlier in the morning or later at night when it’s cooler out. It may also be worth investing in a gym membership (if it’s air conditioned!)
4. Protect Yourself – With all the activities that come along with summer, you may be feeling overwhelmed. Make sure to keep enough time open for yourself. If you had planned to host a family barbeque but simply cannot find the time to accommodate, ask a relative to host it instead.
5. Think About It - Everything has a cause and effect. What is the reason that you deal with summer depression year to year? Do you associate summer with a difficult time in the past (a break-up, the death of a loved one, etc.)? Uncovering your unhappy connection with the summer and sorting out your issues can help you break the cycle.

Just because the calendar says it’s July doesn’t mean that you have to be happy. Comparing your feelings to the feelings of people around you is an unhealthy measure. Instead, focus on what triggers your feelings of depression and develop a plan to overcome it.

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