25 Jul The Summer Scaries Are Real
In the summer, everything tends to be more beautiful; there are beautiful sunsets, beautiful vacations, beautiful evenings spent eating and drinking al fresco, beautiful beaches, beautiful bodies in beautiful bathing suits, and so on. However, exploring social media can make this worse.
We can get sucked into the routine of scrolling and witnessing (in real-time) what seems like everyone having a perfect time. It can feel like absolutely everyone is cheerful and relaxed, except for you.
There you are, wondering what is wrong with you because you may be filled with dread. You may feel like you are the only one who doesn’t like the longer days. You may feel badly for wanting to stay inside, when everyone seems to be outside. You may feel like everyone is socializing with family and friends, while you are alone.
You are not alone in feeling what I like to call the “Summer Scaries” and it may absolutely feel that way.
The summer is full of triggers. You may struggle with body image and feel uncomfortable with the fact that you have to wear less clothing and can’t cover up. Like many people, you may fear getting into a bathing suit, or feel exposed. You may have heard the term “Summer Body” repeatedly and feel that you don’t have one; therefore, you may feel triggered to restrict your calories or over-exercise due to the pressure of obtaining one.
If you struggle with substance abuse, you may feel that everywhere you look, people are eating and drinking al fresco, looking so happy. You may wish that was you. You may feel like all the drinking that you are trying to courageously avoid is wherever you look.
Let’s face it – the summer is chock full of triggers for people. While it can seem that everyone is more happy-go-lucky than usual, the truth is that many people struggle in many different ways. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which many people are familiar with existing during the winter months, can also affect people during the summer months.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression, symptoms can also be exacerbated. Summer can mean a drastic change of routine, or more free time. This can be scary, as can be any sort of change. While some people embrace less stress, some people fear it. Keep in mind that less stress, school or work can mean more empty mind space (i.e. more sitting with the internal than the noise of the external).
Summer can also mean a change of sleep routine. You may find yourself able to sleep more and taking advantage of it. For someone who struggles with depression, this can be counterproductive to your ongoing recovery. Too much sleep or changes in sleep cycle can increase depression and/or create a pattern of isolation.
Tips for managing SAD and the Summer Scaries:
- Talk it out. Preferably with a therapist or psychiatrist, or talk with friends or family. You may find that you are not alone, and you likely won’t be. Find a friend or family who can hold you accountable and support you when you feel like isolating.
- Practice self-care. I recommend doing a mindfulness practice of making a list of things that bring you joy. It may be as simple as eating watermelon or enjoying a sunset.
- Practice self-love. If your summer scaries are body-image related, remember that there is no such thing as a “summer body”. Follow some body-image positive people on Instagram; there are a ton of people out there who are advocating for self-love and body acceptance. Join the revolution!
- Move a muscle, change a thought! Go for a walk, preferably in the park. One study done at Stanford University proved the positive effects that a walk in nature has on our brain and mental health.
- Take a social media break! I recently came across a sign outside of a store that said, “Check-in with yourself as much as you check Instagram.” I will also add that it is important to make it a point to check-in with yourself when you check Instagram. Ask yourself something along the lines of, “is this serving me right now?”
If you are having trouble limiting your time on social media, try the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) technique of creating a barrier. Put your social media apps in a folder and title it something like, “Do you really need to look?” It also helps to set a timer on your phone to self-regulate with a reminder. You can always ignore the alert, yet it forces you to get mindful and gives you time to use what Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) calls the “STOP” skill and get into “Wise Mind” to help you make the decision if you want to proceed.
- Practice DBT Emotion Regulation skills – especially the ones that are biological. Hydrate and nourish yourself, get active and activate those endorphins.
- Most importantly, reach out for help if you need it. You deserve it!
Authored by: Jaime Gleicher, LMSW