Most people have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. When we hear this term, we immediately think of the wintertime blues. Usually, the cold temperatures and lack of sunshine can result in low vitamin D levels and a deflated mood.
In the winter it seems as if most people are holding out for the summer. You may hear things like, “I cannot wait for the beach!” or, “I cannot wait for it to be nice out and not look so grey.”
And what’s not to love about summer? Sunshine, outdoor time with friends, and warm temperatures.
However, there is such a thing as summer depression, which is another type of SAD. The wintertime SAD affects about 4 to 6% of the population, but summertime SAD affects nearly 10% of the U.S. population.
The reasons why people experience summertime SAD vary, but some factors include body image issues, the excessive heat, intense FOMO with all the activities going on, financial worries because of all the vacations, weddings and events, and ever-changing, non-consistent schedules.
Last summer, I came to the harsh realization that I just wasn’t myself. I just launched my new book, Food Guilt No More, at the end of May and was about to embark on a six-week media tour. At the time, I started experiencing head pain, jaw pain, loss of appetite and lots of anxiety. I figured it was just because it was an exciting time and a lot was going on. But as soon as I got home from my last tour date, I had no energy to do anything for about two weeks. Again, I blamed it on needing time to detox from all the external stimuli.
But then I started feeling like I was going crazy. I felt like I should be enjoying summer, but all I wanted to do was be inside and do nothing. I had no appetite, I was more anxious, and it took me twice as long to finish a project because of my lack of energy and motivation. As someone who loves to get shit done and be pro-active, it upset me when I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to, and it spiraled me into an even bigger worry mode.
Knowing something was wrong, I scheduled an appointment with my trusted naturopath/acupuncturist/therapist/healer/life-saver, Ted Cibik. (I’m not being dramatic. This guy is the real deal.)
I told Ted all that was going on with my health, and it was then that I realized I had been experiencing summertime SAD. Instead of using the technical terms, he explained this to me in such a simple way. He said that my body naturally expels energy at a high-heat rate, a.k.a. I’m feisty, love to work, and love to get shit done. Ted said if I were a car, my engine would always be hot. So, in the wintertime, if you are starting your already hot engine up when it’s cool, your body stays even and allows for an easy flow. But when you are starting up a hot engine in the hot summer months, your body quickly overheats.
So here I was, thinking that I had a million things wrong with me for not wanting to participate in summer, but I realized that my body is unique and deals with summer in a different way. And that’s really what getting to know your body is all about. Your body is constantly feeding you signs and signals to help you realize what it needs. Your job is to simply listen to it.
Once I realized this, I was able to learn more about my body, to see the natural rhythms of it to help combat summertime SAD in the future. Here are a few things I’ve done this summer to help deal with summertime SAD and maybe you can too:
- Cool Your Engine: In excessive heat in the summer, it’s so important to cool your engine. If you work from home and don’t have air conditioning, try working at a coffee shop a few days a week. You may also want to take a dip in the local pool or even take a cooling shower. Not interested in doing all of that? Simply dip your feet in cool water for fifteen minutes to help your body naturally cool down.
- Keep Hydrated: Well, duh! Right?! I know this sounds super simple, but when you experience SAD in the summer, often times, you have zero appetite and this can include forgetting to drink water. ALWAYS have a water bottle filled with you at all times to ensure you are drinking throughout the day. This will help keep you cool and keep your brain functioning well.
- Plan Your Life Accordingly: I know not everyone that experiences SAD can stop their entire life in the summer and wait until fall to be active again. However, knowing this, you can take pro-active steps to make sure that you give yourself some extra space in the summer or finish any big projects before the heat has an impact on you. If you are planning a vacation, consider going somewhere a little cooler in the summer rather than hotter.
Understanding your body at this deep level can help you combat SAD and have a happy summer after all!
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