Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is often talked about when winter rolls around. There is less light during the day, gloomy weather and all you really want to do is snuggle up solo under the covers and hibernate until it’s warm outside.
When the weather starts to heat up, you may start to fantasize about future BBQs, pool parties, camping trips, and beach outings that are planned. There are a few of us, however, that aren’t able to get as excited about these events in comparison to others. Those people may be experiencing Summertime Seasonal Affective Disorder. And, although Summertime SAD only affects 1% of the population, that is still over a whopping 1,000,000 people. So, let’s talk about Summertime SAD:
Summertime SAD can start in early spring when the time changes and it gets lighter outside. Our brain’s physiology is made to adapt to this time change, however when you are affected by SAD, the brain may not be as favorable to this transition. In response, individuals who have Summertime SAD may experience insomnia or agitation. Another cause of Summertime SAD may be the pressure to be social which can create feelings of anxiety for those who have trouble with groups of people and loneliness for those who are not included in as many activities. Yet, there is one thing you can do to help improve the symptoms associated with Summertime SAD: go outside for some sunshine!
Regardless if you’re doing something solo or with a friend or two, your exposure to light is the key to helping manage your illness. Sunlight improves serotonin and melatonin levels which can improve our moods and make us feel more like ourselves. Here are a few activities you can do solo while outdoors:
- Go for a hike! Hiking solo may seem boring, but you may be surprised how connected you’ll feel to nature when all you have are your hiking boots and fresh air all around you. Just be sure to stay on the trail and find a trail that is less likely to have any dangerous characters that you want to avoid such as snakes or mountain lions.
- Sit outside with a good book: Now, we don’t encourage simply laying out in the sun only to be burnt to a crisp like a marshmallow over a fire. However, we do encourage you do sit outdoors with a book with a fresh layer of sunscreen applied. Grab a towel, a small pillow, sunscreen and your book and head to your nearest park where you can dive into a book’s alternate reality.
- Bike to a Farmers Market: Almost every town or city has at least one Farmers Market nearby on the weekends. Grab your bike and head to your closest Farmers Market. Not only will you be getting your daily dose of Vitamin D, but you’ll also be moving your legs and stocking up on fresh fruit and veggies to eat throughout the week!
- Put your green thumb to work: While digging, planting and watering, you’ll be enhancing your yard while getting a good amount of sunshine. Gardening is a great way to relax, take your mind off of the stress of life, and watch something grow and bloom! If you are having trouble deciding where to begin with your garden, try planting succulents; they are generally easy to take care of and add a nice amount of greenery to a yard (or indoors!).
- Play in a Sports league: There are many sports leagues that offer young and older adults the opportunity to play sports such as softball, basketball, kickball, and soccer. This is a great way to meet new people, stay active, and most importantly, get a dose of sunshine!