You have probably heard of the winter blues, but what about the summer struggles?
Summer is usually a time for spending time in the sun and socialising with friends, which is appealing to some but can also be anxiety-inducing for others.
According to Paul Guess, Mental Wellbeing Expert at Occupational Health charity caba, summer anxiety is essentially the opposite of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and involves "heightened stress, worry, or unease during summer".
"This can lead to physical symptoms like increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweaty palms, and mental symptoms like increased anxious thoughts or sudden panic attacks," Paul explains. "Triggers of summer anxiety can include sudden rising temperatures, more social events, and even the fear of missing out (FOMO), which can cause unnecessary internal social pressure."
Paul recommends several ways to help you cope with summer anxiety:
Set realistic expectations
During the summer months, it is expected that we have big plans to enjoy the weather and socialise, but it is also important to make sure you aren't over-committing yourself.
"Try to accept that your summer doesn't have to be perfect, with you attending every social event," Paul advises. "Instead, prioritise your personal care and set realistic social expectations to avoid increased stress or anxiety."
Limit social media exposure
Try to avoid comparing your summer to those on social media as this could trigger your anxiety.
"I recommend taking regular breaks from social media to avoid the comparison of your summer and someone else's," the expert says. "If you feel your anxious thoughts are growing, take a break."
Balance indoor and outdoor activities
Try to balance the more intense outdoor activities with calming, low-pressure indoor activities to help you slow down.
"Enjoy outdoor activities during mornings or evenings when UV levels are moderate to low," Paul recommends. "Balance this with relaxing, therapeutic indoor activities which offer protection from the heat and calm your thoughts."
Keep your bedroom comfortable
Make sure that you have a comfortable and calming environment to sleep in and escape to when you need a moment of quiet.
Paul suggests, "To optimise your sleep quality, create a calm environment with fans or air conditioning for your sleep sanctuary. Small changes like linen or satin bedsheets and a cool shower before bed can also help improve your sleep."
Practice mindful and positive self-talk
Practising meditation and positive affirmations could be a great way to help calm your mind.
"Ground yourself with positive affirmations and slow breathing exercises during moments of heightened anxiety," Paul says. "You can incorporate this into your life simply while sitting in bed or having your morning tea. It doesn't always have to be an extra task in your day.
"You can also try mindfulness activities like meditation or yoga. These can help you release negative thoughts and create a safe space."