SUMMERTIME BLUES. How to enjoy the summer your way. Blog by Tiffany Barnard23rd of July 2021
Many of us spend the winter months counting the days down to summer. We bitch and complain our way through January and February, dreaming of the time when we can shed our layers and dive into the ocean.
Let’s face it, there is an expectation of happiness that comes with summer. Summer fixes everything!
So why then do we feel blue when summer finally comes around?
I have several clients who are suffering with the summertime blues, and it is something that I can relate to.
Summer has been built up to be this idyllic time of BBQs in the garden and frolicking fun on the beach!
The smell of suntan lotion and salt drenched hair is what summer is like in our heads.
Days spent basking in the warmth of the sun and friendship. Sipping margaritas at sunset wearing white and listening to the distant gleeful laughter of children enjoying the last moments of the day on the beach.
With this picture in our minds eye, who wouldn’t want summer to come!!
The problem is, this is a fantasy… Summer, when it eventually arrives is a whole other ballgame!
It’s hot, it’s sweaty, and it’s expensive!
Summertime is when your kids are off school for 10 weeks! That’s 10 weeks of hearing “I’M BORED” repeated incessantly, often with a chorus of “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!” and of course all this is happening while you still have to work. No wonder you feel frazzled!
If you don’t have kids, it is still hot and sweaty, and you still have to work when all you really want to do is head to the beach and cool off! And then, in a blink of an eye, you wake up and it’s September 1st and summer is over, and you realise that you haven’t even had a BBQ!
But I think that summer is the biggest disappointment for the 18 - 30 year-olds. Why? Because they spend the year at college and summer represents all sorts of things. Now obviously, in the times of Covid, expectations have been tempered a bit, but still, fun is expected.
As I have touched on before in my blogs, expectations are our own worst enemies! Will build things up in our heads and inevitably, reality kicks in and it’s nothing like the scenario we had dreamt up.
Disappointment that summer is just another 10 weeks of the year.
Frustration at ourselves because we are bored, lack focus and end up demotivated.
And resentment, often aimed at those people who were present in our fantasy summer but who ended up doing something else entirely in actuality. We hold these people responsible for our disappointment when the truth is that they probably didn’t even know we had plans with them and ultimately, we can only hold ourselves responsible for our happiness.
We seem to put immense pressure on ourselves during the hotter months to be out and having fun! If you happen to mention that you are bored because, let’s face it, it’s too freakin’ hot to do ANYTHING, someone will inevitably suggest that you go to the beach!
The problem is that the beach in summer is generally nothing like it is in our heads!
It’s crowded (and right now, is that even a good idea?), people are overheated, parents are irritated by their kids, others are irritated by the same kids kicking sand all over the place. Hundreds of people, roasting themselves in the sun…
Everybody seems to be shouting for some reason and there … in the middle of all this chaos is you … on your little towel, trying desperately to protect the square meter of beach that you have claimed as yours for the afternoon.
The truth is, not everyone likes the beach. So now what?
And this is where the problems start.
Even if we continue working through the summer, our schedule is more relaxed at best and totally messed up at worst. This in itself will put us off balance. Humans thrive on routine and when its disturbed, we lose our way a little.
The change in routine can often lead to a lack of focus, a drop in energy levels, no motivation, and yes! The lethargy of the summertime blues.
We feel guilty because we are not doing ANY of the things, we thought we would be and to make matters worse, we’re not doing any of the things that we need to be doing either.
As we become more irritable, lose our appetite, have trouble sleeping, feel agitated, anxious and restlessness, we become more withdrawn, using the heat as an excuse for not doing anything and before we know it, we become one of the 10% of the population that suffers from Summertime SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
That’s the good news! You are not alone in how you feel and not by a long way!
So summer is here and yes! It’s hot! It’s sweaty! And if you are not doing the things that you dreamt of back in February, don’t sweat it! Here are some tips to keeping your cool this summer:
First of all, you need to recognise your feelings and acknowledge that it is a ‘thing’. There is huge value in naming what you are experiencing. Our society attaches so many positive assumptions to summer that it is very easy to chastise yourself feeling melodramatic about a season! So, it’s important to take a beat and remind yourself that it is most definitely OK to feel like you do and that it IS real. You’re not making it up. This self-validation will offer some solace.
Reframe your expectations of what summer is ‘supposed’ to look like.
Life very rarely imitates art and as such the summer we see in the movies is not going to happen in our life. One of the obvious reasons for this is that we don’t even live in the USA. We also have our cherished childhood memories of summer and what that time meant to us, and this is brilliant! The only thing is, we aren’t 8 or even 18 anymore and those memories are more than likely rose tinted. So, be kind to yourself and don’t submit to the pressure of trying to have the perfect cinematic summer! Instead, take some time and think about what it is that you really want to do during the hotter months. Maybe your perfect summer is spent inside, with the air conditioning blasting, the curtains drawn against the white light outside, and binge-watching Netflix. Whatever it is, it’s all good as long as you know what it is.
Stay away from social media!
There is nothing more depressing than ploughing through everyone else’s “perfect summer” pictures when you are sitting in the dark feeling a bit crap. When we are feeling vulnerable, we tend to forget that most of the photos on social media are posted for the express purpose of putting forward the perfect image of that person…not the factual image. So instead of comparing yourself to something artificial, make some new memories of your own and consider keeping them just for you and NOT sharing on Instagram.
Have a wish list and be proactive about it.
Make a list of the things that you WANT to do during the summer. This could be anything! The world is your oyster in this respect. The only rule is that they have to be realistic and doable given your own boundaries. So, maybe you want to catch up on your reading, visit some museums, dose up on your culture at an art exhibition, try water aerobics, learn how to cook some new dishes, the possibilities are endless. The trick here is that once you have your list, push yourself to do it. These should all be things you want to do and not what others expect you to be doing, so rally your friends and do them.
Make a plan to stay active.
I can hear the groans of “it’s too freakin’ hot” as I write that! But unfortunately, it is true that moving around, even if it’s only for 20 minutes a day, will improve your mood. It is also true that it’s hot and sticky so, try doing something inside. YouTube is crammed with fitness videos so why not try a couple. Maybe now is the time to try your hand at Yoga? Go for an early morning or late-night walk… Whatever it is that you choose to do…aim to do it every day.
Be sure to get your beauty sleep.
Life is always more complicated when we are tired! It is even worse when we are hot AND tired so make sure that you are getting the hours you need every night. The long days do mess with your circadian rhythms and can make regular sleeping patterns difficult. If this is a problem for you, maybe consider investing in some blackout blinds or even a sleeping mask to block out the light. Buy a fan for your bedroom - I know that it’s meant to be unhealthy but so is not sleeping! We have to choose our battles in this case.
Try not to isolate yourself from your friends.
It is really easy to sit at home and wait for someone else to initiate our plans. Of course, when they don’t, we end up feeling irritated and resentful because our time has been wasted and irrationally, it is someone else’s fault. The more time you spend alone, the less you can be bothered to go out and be sociable and what happens at the end of this? Well, we can very well end up feeling alone. So don’t be the one waiting for the call! Call your friends and get them moving or join in on a local Meetup! Be the one to make it happen and have some fun!
And last but definitely not least; talk to someone about how you are feeling.
This could be a friend, a coach, a doctor or a therapist. Whoever you feel the most comfortable with. Share your feelings. Often, just by talking about something, it becomes less overwhelming. So as Les Brown said, “Ask for help not because you are weak, but because you want to remain strong”.
So, with that in mind, get out there and enjoy the summer on your own terms!!
P.S. I truly believe that no one should suffer anything alone, so if you can relate to any of what I said in this piece, please know that you are not alone! And if you think I can help, please reach out, I would love to meet you.