Our mood, thoughts, and health are affected, among other things, by the world that surrounds us.
Our friends, our co-workers, where we live, and yes, even the weather itself.
It can get to the point where certain people experience specific symptoms during one season or the other.
These symptoms include changes in their eating habits, mood, levels of energy and so on.
For example, some people report a rise in their feelings of anxiety during the summer, although I have personally encountered a few people who felt more anxious during the winter.
What causes this seasonal anxiety in the first place? Is there even one specific cause at all?
As it turns out, there is no one true answer to this question.
Seasonal anxiety is a symptom
Seasonal anxiety is not a proper, officially recognized disorder.
In fact, “Seasonal Anxiety Disorder” is not listed as a disorder in any diagnostic manual.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder”, or SAD for short, is a mood disorder that comes and goes based on the season, and seasonal anxiety is but a symptom of it.
Although most people experience SAD during the winter, some experience this disorder during the summer.
Anxiety is a symptom that is exclusive to summer SAD, making it an uncommon problem, at least on the surface.
The thing is, summertime is typically accompanied by certain cultural and environmental changes that can be difficult to deal with, resulting in feelings of stress and anxiety.
These feelings have nothing to do with SAD and have internal, unrelated causes.
What causes seasonal anxiety?
In the U.S, roughly 1% of the population experiences SAD during the summer, many of which do not experience much anxiety at all.
According to Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, a pioneering expert on the subject of SAD, the specific cause of summer SAD remains unclear.
It has been observed, however, that summer SAD is is more common in warmer, brighter places. This would imply that summer SAD is not a random phenomenon, but a real struggle for people all around the world.
Similarly, to people who are heat-intolerant, the effects of heat on the body are very similar to those of anxiety.
In their case, it is possible that the symptoms alone would be enough to increase their levels of anxiety or even trigger a panic attack.
Another possible explanation is that the summer somehow interferes with your sleep.
While people with winter SAD tend to sleep too much, those with summer SAD sleep too little, and in many cases they suffer from insomnia, which also can cause anxiety.
How To Overcome Seasonal Anxiety
In some cases, seasonal anxiety is caused by environmental causes that are outside our control.
In many other cases, it is a by-product of the circumstances more than anything else.
Either way, based on your specific situation, it can either be tolerated or dealt with completely.
Here are 5 tips that will help you better handle your anxiety.
1) Stay Hydrated
It might seem obvious to you but the best way to treat dehydration is to drink more water.
Well, you are right, but staying hydrated is a lot harder than it seems.
Mild dehydration is rather hard to notice, yet it can have a variety of effects on your mental functions, as well as increasing your levels of stress and causing anxiety.
Staying hydrated, in turn, can help you manage your levels of stress.
But the question is, how do you know how much you should drink?
In many cases, people offer a universal number of liters/cups but in reality, the number changes from one person to another.
Generally speaking, simply staying conscious of your thirst, the body’s natural way of informing you of dehydration, should be enough.
In some other cases, such as when you are sweating, noticing dehydration right away becomes much more complicated.
One way to deal with this problem is to drink water whenever you feel particularly hot/start sweating, regardless of thirst.
2) Avoid warm temperatures
One of the possible causes of summer SAD is the summer heat.
The best way to handle the heat is to avoid spending more time outside than is necessary.
Air conditioning is also something that you should consider.
In case you don’t have AC then spending time in places that do (such as your office or the mall) or using electric fans might do the trick.
Another thing that you can do to keep yourself cool is to take cold showers.
Cold showers can relieve stress and help you regulate your body’s temperature.
Aside from that, Wearing loose, light and bright clothes is also a great way to avoid the heat.
This type of clothing will not absorb as much heat, making it ideal for someone who struggles with warm temperatures.
3) Don’t let yourself be pushed by other people
During the summer the weather tends to be nicer, and as such, many people try to make the most out of this opportunity.
This is the time where most would choose to take a vacation, go to the beach, or party with their friends.
There is relatively little resistance to do so, and since summer days are longer than any other season then it’s possible to enjoy many activities that require daylight, such as swimming, even after work.
The problem is that in many cases you are absolutely expected to have “fun”, even if you really don’t want to.
Going to parties even if you are not a part person, going to the beach even if you dislike the sea and so on.
The summer can be quite a stressful time for introverts, shy people, or simply those who don’t really enjoy social gatherings.
The best way to deal with this social pressure is to learn to say “no”
Sure, you can come up with an excuse, but simply declining the offer outright is much more empowering.
4. Learn to accept yourself
Aside from the problems that are caused by your environment, there are also a few possible causes for your anxiety that are internal rather than external.
For example, body dysmorphia is a disorder in which you can’t stop thinking on perceived flaws in your appearance, even if they aren’t really there.
Body dysmorphia affects roughly 1.7% to 2.4% of the population and it can certainly make summer a difficult season for you.
After all, during summer people tend to wear much lighter clothing, and not everyone is necessarily comfortable with this.
It doesn’t even have to be body dysmorphia, many of us are uncomfortable with our appearances, or have other issues that make summer an uncomfortable time for us.
If your problems are personal rather than environmental then the season isn’t the cause, but merely a trigger and as such should be treated separately.
In this case, meeting with a professional therapist is highly recommended.
5) Try to get better sleep
Have you ever noticed that you tend to feel drowsy and energized at about the same times every day? If so, you have the circadian rhythm to thank for it.
The circadian rhythm is our body’s internal clock and is responsible for cycling sleepiness and alertness based on the time of day.
The changing of seasons can mess with your circadian rhythm, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep and rest properly.
Sleep and anxiety are closely associated with one another, and the less you sleep and the lower your quality of sleep is, the more likely you are to develop anxiety.
So what can you do? A few things, actually
- Avoid using blue light electronics (computers, smartphones, televisions etc) before sleep
- Maintain a proper sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time every day) in order to re-regulate your internal clock
- Get more sleep
- Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol before going to bed
By the time these actions become habits for you are likely to notice a substantial improvement in your quality of sleep and thus your overall levels of anxiety.
Anxiety needs to be treated
In some cases, the causes of summer anxiety are out of our control.
For example, you can’t control the weather or the way that your body reacts to it.
You can, however, get better by learning how to manage your condition.
Internal causes can be treated through self-help, therapy, or a combination of both.
External causes can be dealt with by having the right habits and sticking to them.
Either way, I would highly recommend that you check out the “Panic Away Program”
Regardless of what caused your anxiety, this program will give guides, tips, and tricks that will help you to get rid of your anxiety for good and get your life back on track, better than ever.
If you are serious about getting better then you should definitely give this program a try.
For any further questions feel free to get in touch either by commenting our sending me an email.