We have all heard how Seasonal Affective Disorder - SAD - affects us in the dreary winter months, but did you know that in warmer climates, like Texas, it can hit during summer?
Hi y’all, I am Susan, I’m a mom of 3 young adults, and I work with Juli behind the scenes on In Our Arms Blog. While she is taking a week off to rest and recharge, I wanted to share this article by Nicole Villalpando in the Austin-American Statesman that I recently came across that was an ah-ha moment for me. Reverse Seasonal Depression is a real thing!
This summer has especially challenged us in Texas with the oppressive heat, drought, bad air quality and allergies keeping us feeling trapped inside. When you have kids at home, not being able to get them outdoors to play due to the heat can cause agitation and feelings of isolation.
If you are like me, I enjoy exploring local parks and watering holes with my family, but the rivers are low and it’s just too hot to do the things we normally enjoy together this summer.
The long days inside are taking their toll and I am definitely feeling the summer burnout, plus August brings anxiety as we prepare our kids for the new school year and leaving home again.
To quote the article, "Anything that affects our physical health, affects our mental health," said Kate Hix, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness Central Texas. Hix, herself, has experienced that feeling of being trapped inside during the summer.”
The article provided some great tips to help if you're feeling mentally affected by this heat as well, so I’ve included them here for you below:
Get outside when you can. That might mean early in the morning and later in the evening right now.
Avoid going out in the heat of the day. Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can all affect mental health regulation.
Stay active even if you have to be inside. Maybe you exercise at the gym, maybe you walk around an air-conditioned space like a large store, mall or your house. Hours of inactivity can lead to that trapped feeling, restlessness or depression.
Give yourself something to do. Plan regular indoor activities such as exercise, volunteering or a project you want to do. Constant boredom can start a mental health spiral.
Get enough sleep. It might still be light outside at 9 p.m. and the sun might rise at 6 a.m., but if you need to be asleep at 9 p.m. or still be asleep at 6 a.m., try to stick to your normal sleep routine. Invest in shades, blinds or black-out curtains if you are light sensitive.
Create a daily routine. Summer for families can mean a free-for-all with schedules. Try to mimic the school year with regular wakeup times, regular bedtimes, regular meal times and regular activities both physical and mental. Without structure, kids can get anxious, and they can get less sleep than they need.
Create some consistency. For kids who are at a different camp each week, try to make the rest of their day the same: breakfast, dinnertime, bedtime.
Continue to eat healthy regular meals. No one wants to cook in the heat of the summer, but that doesn't mean constant snacking or takeout. Boost the vegetables, fruits and lean proteins for good brain power foods.
Maintain a connection. Lacking the structure of the school year can feel isolating for kids and parents. Schedule play dates (for kids and adults) or phone a friend often.
Take mental health breaks. If you're feeling overwhelmed, think about doing some yoga or meditation.
Reach out for therapy. The National Alliance on Mental Illness Central Texas, namicentraltx.org, has resources on where to find help as well as its own classes and support groups. More mental health companies launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they aren't doing things the same way. New offerings include virtual sessions as well as therapy by text message. Check with your insurance carrier or your workplace employee assistance program about what is offered and which providers are accessible to you.
If you are feeling the late summer blues, I hope these ideas will help you as well. I am incorporating walks once the sun goes down, yoga and eating healthy regular meals. I also am avoiding doing late afternoon errands in the heat. I’d love to hear your ideas for ways to maintain your mental health in the summer months as well.
About Susan Terese:
Susan Terese is an account coordinator at Haute In Texas. She previously worked in non-profit public relations and marketing in Austin, TX, and Washington, DC. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland. Susan loves creating copy that helps clients share their stories and promote the good they are doing in the world! When not working, she can be found with her family at the soccer field, dance studio or exploring nature! Yoga and her new covid skill – sourdough bread baking – are her go to for relaxation.