Summer is here and everyone is finally out and about! You should be thinking about sun and fun but the only thing on your mind is how anxious you feel. What’s up with that?
It’s not your imagination. The fact is, summer anxiety is a real thing! Just like seasons can affect your mood, seasons can also affect your level of anxiety. Researchers suspect that sensations from the increase in heat and humidity that comes with summer mimics the physiological symptoms (sweating, palpitations, shaking, shortness of breath, feeling faint) experienced during anxiety and panic attacks.
You can’t change the seasons so what can you do about your anxiety? Here are some tips from your Atlanta counselor for taming your summer anxiety.
Adequate hydration helps your body regulate its functions including blood flow and temperature. Some studies have suggested that dehydration may increase the risk of experiencing anxiety. Water itself is calming. The act of sipping water helps to focus and soothe you. Water cools the body and helps it to maintain its natural balance.
Sometimes that’s easier said than done in the dead of summer. Because the heat and humidity are suspected triggers, try to avoid being out in the hottest parts of the day. If you’re going to be outside, take lots of breaks and find a shady spot to cool off. Make it a habit to keep a cool drink with you and dress comfortably.
Get Some Sleep
It’s thought that the longer days of summer can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm making sleep more difficult. Poor sleep is associated with increased risk for anxiety. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule as much as possible.
Don’t Skip Exercise
It might sound counterintuitive. Afterall, exercise causes you to sweat and raises the body’s temperature. But exercise also helps to reduce and distract you from intrusive, anxious thoughts, boost self-confidence and promotes better sleep. If it’s really hot outside, try exercising indoors where you can control the temperature. Some activities such as yoga have been shown to help improve anxiety levels.
Pay Attention to Your Body’s Anxiety Cues
You know your body and the cues that tell you anxiety is increasing. Be on the lookout for signs such as restlessness, intrusive thoughts and worries, low energy, racing heart, changes in your breathing, or feeling restless. If you notice them, take some time to practice your anxiety-reduction skills such as controlled breathing or relaxation.
Meditation has long been a mainstay for calming the mind. Meditation allows you to relax and calm your body and mind in a peaceful environment. Engaging in a daily meditation can effectively reduce anxiety.
Reach Out for Help
If you find your summer anxiety is too much to handle on your own, help is available. Counseling can help you to understand anxiety and find ways to manage it that work for you. You don’t have to suffer alone and you don’t have to give up your summer.
While there is no one perfect solution for summertime anxiety, it doesn’t have to ruin your summer fun. When you know what it is and what to do about it, you can take on summer knowing that you have the tools to manage your anxiety if it decides to pop up. Enjoy your summer!
Liska, D., Mah, E., Brisbois, T., Barrios, P. L., Baker, L. B., & Spriet, L. L. (2019). Narrative Review of Hydration and Selected Health Outcomes in the General Population. Nutrients, 11(1), 70. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11010070
Ohtani, T., Kaiya, H., Utsumi, T., Inoue, K., Kato, N., & Sasaki, T. (2006). Sensitivity to seasonal changes in panic disorder patients. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 60(3), 379-383. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1819.2006.01517.x