Surviving Summer

Here in England we don’t see much sunshine so for many of us the long awaited summer months bring a welcome dose of Vitamin D and an excuse to hit the G&T’s and jugs of Pimms hard. It’s also probably the most sociable time of year after Christmas with all those BBQs, beach trips, weddings and picnics. And let’s not forget the much deserved annual trip abroad.
All pretty great if you’re in a good place and your mental health is in top nick. But what if you’re not?

‘A team from London's Institute of Psychiatry found that suicide rates go up during hot weather. Analysis of more than 50,000 suicides in England and Wales between 1993 and 2003 showed the suicide rate rose when average daily temperatures topped 18C. The study appears in the British Journal of Psychiatry. ’ Source:BBC NEWS
And whilst many of us are familiar with  SAD (seasonal affective Disorder) occurring during the winter months, some people suffer from the very reverse with increased sensitivity to the heat and brightness of the summer season having a great impact on their mood.

We can’t all be Olaf...

Bless his little frozen heart, I think it’s easy to envy the little snowman from Disneys Frozen. Ignorance is bliss for him as he bursts into song about the wondrous delights of summer and all its glorious promise. Some of us however would much prefer not to ‘bring back summer’ and would be more likely to be slapping Elsa on the back and buying her pint for sparing us from Summers demands.

For those who suffer with depression and anxiety and other mental health struggles the expectation that we should be out enjoying ourselves and basking in the sunshine can feel overwhelming, sometimes leading to feelings of inadequacy and guilt.
 If we find it difficult to leave the house, the heat can make it oppressive to be inside. If we are struggling with insomnia, sweaty nights can be a nightmare in themselves. If we suffer with social anxiety then the aforementioned BBQS and beach trips etc can cause panic. And if we are hiding our pain under long sleeved hoodies and sweatshirts that conceal our self-harm scars, the question ‘’aren’t you hot in that?’’ can make our hearts race.

The Kaftan stays on ok!

Apparently ‘’summer bodies are made in winter’’ but what if we were so depressed in the cold months that all our energy went into keeping ourselves alive? A more noble effort than squats I’d say ,but unfortunately today’s culture places more value on a six pack.

The now infamous ‘Are You Beach Body Ready’ campaign by Protein World caused controversy when it was plastered all over trains and billboards two years ago. It highlighted the immense pressure placed on women (but let’s not forget men here either) to live up to a certain ideal body shape with the message that unless you are tight, tanned and toned you’ve no business in a bikini or even on a beach-Corporate body shaming on a grand scale!

For those of us gripped by an eating disorder or Body dysmorphia, less clothes = increased anxiety and self scrutiny of our appearance and/or weight.

Summer of Love? If you say so...
You’ve four wedding invites this summer and there’s not a plus one to be found on all of Tinder. You’re ‘’Always the bridesmaid never the bride’’ but ‘’don’t worry it will be you’re turn next love’’. Don’t you just love wedding season? If you’re broken hearted from a recent break up or saddened by a struggle to find the right life partner, watching all the ‘’perfect couples’’ you know tie the knot can be like being made to sit with your eyes jammed open clockwork orange style while Disney romances are played on loop.
The combination of social protocols, large groups of people, photocalls , eating in public and unpredictable seating plans can also create anxiety and sensory overload for some.

We The Lonely

For those of us at school, college or University, the summer holidays can feel like a lifetime of sunny nothingness. Maybe we could distract ourselves from the feelings of isolation or the hurt of bullying and broken friendships with the business of lessons and homework, but without it an enormous and sometimes frightening blank space can be left in its place. And if school was a sanctuary from difficulties at home, then the summer holidays can make us feel even more isolated. 

Filling all those hours on limited pocket money and even more limited company often means that most of our Summer can be spent online.
‘’Almost a quarter of 12 to 16-year-olds spend more than five hours a day online during the school holidays, while averaging just over an hour during term time. Some 20 per cent admitted interacting with strangers online — and 25 per cent said they had witnessed cyber bullying.’’ SOURCE: THE TIMES

If we are feeling lonely and vulnerable the internet is not always a friendly place to be. Talking to parents or a Counsellor may help or you can visit or for support.
The 42 day Play date
Schools out for summer!!! No school means 6 weeks of quality family time and endless fun right? ...right? Of course for many but not for everyone. Let’s not forget the parents clenching their jaws as they walk the guilty tightrope between work and family, balancing the demands of both as they juggle childcare during the holidays. And speaking of holidays, the pressure of ‘’not disappointing the kids’’ can make some parents feel backed into financial a corner when it comes to paying for that annual break. You can just picture it now, ‘’IT’S NOT FAIR!! Everyone else is going to Dubai and Florida and we’re going Yarmouth/Skegness/Clacton on sea’’. 
And if you’re a single parent, a parent with a mental illness or a socially isolated parent then the pressure to entertain you’re children for 6 weeks with no respite can be even more stressful.
Let’s all get some shade from the summer sun

With all these challenges the overriding theme seems to be one of expectation to be a certain way or a certain thing and the summer sun shines a spotlight on these. Self acceptance and being gentle and kind to ourselves as much as we can will help. If we can be who we are and do what we need to do for ourselves, when we need to, then this can help us navigate the stormy summer seas.

And if someone you care about is struggling with Mental illness, understanding that the lovely weather may not always help their mood, or may possibly even make it worse can help both them and you feel less pressured and frustrated in the heat.


Popular Posts