Summertime Sadness: Helpful Tips to Cope with It
There are few things more depressing than being sad in the summer. (Okay, I’m being melodramatic, but go with me on this one.) The sun is out, the birds are chirping, the hipster are frolicking, and you’re feeling down and out. You feel like you should be happy in such nice conditions, but you’re not. And the contrast between how you feel and how the weather looks makes you feel even worse. I get it, I’ve been there, and still go there every now and then. It’s a common experience. But, the great thing is there are ways to make those days a little easier to get through. You may even feel a drastic change in your mood after trying some of these out!
1. Get out and do something! Sounds simple, but in these moments, it can be really hard to do. First, check your surroundings. Have you been in your apartment by yourself all day with the TV on, looking at the Facebook newsfeed? This is a recipe for disaster for me. Sometimes it feels good to take a day to yourself to do nothing, but there’s a fine line between taking a day off and isolating. Get up and get out. Go for a walk or run, go down to the local coffeeshop for a few minutes, check out the neighborhood stores, do anything! In the mental health field, this is referred to as behavioral activation and has been empirically proven to help people manage symptoms of depression on a daily basis.
2. Check into the present moment. Most importantly, as you’re doing the activity, stay in the present moment. Check into all five senses: the conversations around you, the taste of the coffee/tea, the sound of the coffeeshop, the music in the store, the feel of the fabric, the movement of grass, the feel of the summer breeze. This will help to distance yourself from the thoughts of the past or future that may be bothering you.
3. Call someone! Speaking of isolating, pick up the phone and call someone. Anyone. Leave a message if they don’t pick up. Do not resort to texting. There’s so much lost in a text message, like tone of voice. These nuances are important for others to pick up on in order to respond appropriately and empathetically.
4. Write a gratitude list. When you’re feeling down, it’s hard to focus your attention on the things that may be right in your life. Take a moment to write five things that you are grateful for in your life. This can include basic necessities like good physical health, money to pay the bills, or food and water for the day, as well as things like new clothes, your pet, a good conversation with a new friend, or your gal pals. Your perspective of the moment can change by the end of the list.
5. Encouragement. Through all of this, remember to be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself encouragement and affirmations. Consistent with Dr. Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavioral Therapy , remind yourself that “this moment will not last forever” and you are “doing the best you can for today.” This may remind you of the Stuart Smalley SNL skit (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DIETlxquzY), but it can be helpful for those tough moments of the day.
None of these suggestions are anything revolutionary or epiphanic. They are all simple and easy to remember. So, when you are starting to feel that summertime sadness come over you, you’ll likely remember at least one of these helpful tips. Of course, there’s tons of other things that may work for you to get you through these moments – help a gal out and share them in the comments. Now get on up and go gal-avant around town!