3 Tools from a Psychologist on How to Mange Summer Anxiety
by Dr. Dana Seymour, C. Psych.
When people think about weather and mental health, it is often the cold short days of winter leading to depression.
People often don't talk about the anxiety that can come with summer. As temperatures rise, so can anxiety.
We love what Mother Nature brings with summer ... warmer temps, sunnier skies, and long unstructured days. The things we love about summer, however, can also wreak havoc on your mental health.
Increase Temps can Lead to an Increase in Anxiety
As the summer season transitions into warmer temps, so does your body. With your body getting warmer, it can also lead to a faster heart rate and shallow breathing. These three symptoms are a core part of anxiety. If you are more prone to anxiety, your mind has an incredible ability to to be on high alert for more anxiety. So when your temp gets warmer, your heart rate increases, and your breathing becomes shallow. Instead of attributing these biological responses to the weather, your mind automatically interprets the response as anxiety.
Becoming more aware of the connection between the warmer temps and anxiety can help you feel calmer when you start to feel your core temp, heart rate, and breathing steadily go up. Recognizing this is how the body naturally responds to warmer weather can help you interpret these changes in your body differently. Your mind may still automatically jump to "this is anxiety", but you are able to pause and reflect on the connection between warmer temps and anxiety.
Limited Time for Self Care and Anxiety
Circumstances and routines can change during the warmer months leading to more planning and organizing and a busier schedule. This can leave you trying to juggle childcare, work or school, family visits, and your household. All these balls in the air is no easy feat, sadly leaving you with little to no time to care for yourself. A busier schedule, plus limited self care, can quickly leave you feeling anxious, irritable, and exhausted. Resulting in anxiety creeping up in your parenting, work, and relationships.
When life is filled to the brim, self care becomes about small moments. A small moment to enjoy your fav bevy. A small moment to take a deep breathe. A small moment to still and reflect on the things you are thankful for. Summer may not allow for long moments of scheduled self care, but small moments of self care count.
Summer Expectations and Anxiety
During the summer months, you inherently want to take advantage of the warmer temps, sunnier skies, and longer days. Summer seems to have an unwritten expectation that it's the season to cram in all the fun.
But these summer expectations can lead to over booked schedules and the rushing from activity to activity can lead to anxiety. It's fun to fill your schedule with hiking in the bush, visiting aunties and uncles, trotting off to the beach, bbq's with friends, and road trips. But the pressure to cram in all the summer activities can wreak havoc on the nervous system leading to anxiety.
Instead of overloading on summer activities, what if summer was about slowing down to rest and restore. Slowing down to pick medicines. Slowing down to catch your breathe. Slowing down to bead. What if you took time to pause and take in the beauty of mother nature. To walk bare foot in the green grass, to feel the sun on your face, or enjoy the warm golden lite sunsets. Summer is a great time to be present and take in and savor the quiet moments. Ordinary moments can be extraordinary and help you feel balanced, rooted, and grounded.
If warmer temps, limited time for self care, and expectations for summer are leading to anxiety it can be helpful to talk to a psychologist. A therapist can help you to develop the tools and skills needed to manage your anxiety. If anxiety is left untreated, it can develop into a longer term concern. If you are interested in therapy click here , complete the form, and I will email you back to schedule a consult.
Dr. Dana Seymour, C. Psych.
I'm a registered psychologist, educator, and NIHB provider. I provide culturally informed mental health therapy for Indigenous people in Ontario with a focus on anxiety, depression, stress, and trauma.