The sun is out. The birds are chirping. Flowers are blooming. It’s summertime, and the living is easy. Right?
Not so fast.
For some people, the months of long, sunny days and lazy afternoons can trigger depression.
The possible reasons vary. Parents find their normal routine disrupted. When the kids are out of school, mom and dad are frequently shuttling them from one activity to the next.
The expenses of camps, babysitters or vacations can lead to financial stress. And depending on where you live, heat may play a role. For some people, extreme heat affects sleep patterns, and dehydration contributes to lower energy levels—another depression trigger.
Regardless of the cause, here are eight ways to manage your mood and take control of those summer blues.
1. Eat Breakfast
Physiologically, eating breakfast helps to maintain your blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels that spike and crash can wreak havoc on your mood. After you’ve fasted all night, blood sugar levels are low, and your body and brain need food to function.
2. Set a Routine
Going on vacation, having the kids at home and changing your work schedule throw off your routine. For some people, that means feeling a loss of control, spurring depressive symptoms. Fight back by establishing a new routine: The kids can sleep in, but you still set bedtimes
3. Take Care of Yourself
Having a self-care routine is very important, especially when you’re anxious or depressed. When you feel like everything is about taking care of the kids, it’s important to bring your focus back to yourself
4. Run Away from Depression
Exercise reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and releases mood-elevating endorphins. Doctors are even prescribing exercise as a treatment for depression. Studies show that exercise can reduce depression as effectively as medication can for some people. Start your day with a morning jog, take a walk during your lunch break or do yoga on your patio
5. Lean on Your Friends
Your social support network can be a great buffer against depression. Having a close friend or two to talk to—someone on whom you can depend for emotional –support—can be great when little things accumulate or you feel down.
6. Fend off Facebook
A study in the Public Library of Science in 2013 suggested that heavy Facebook users were more likely to be unsatisfied with life. If you find yourself struggling with all those photos of happy people or feeling disappointed when you compare your achievements, perhaps you should unplug for a bit
7. Get Your ZZZs
People with insomnia are 10 times more likely to develop depression than those who sleep well, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But, the organization acknowledges, the relationship is complex: Sleep problems can lead to depression, and depression can lead to sleep problems. Examine your sleep pattern, and think about changing your bedtime or installing blackout shades.
8. Focus on the Positive
Make a list of things in your life that you feel fortunate about: success at work, people you love. You’ll probably be surprised at how many things you have to be grateful for.
Are you concerned that your warm-weather “blahs” may be something more serious? Click here to learn more about BMH Mental Health Services. You can depend on our professionals for compassionate and confidential care.