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The link between summer and anxiety

a lady walking along a lake
Ever feel like you're more anxious in the summer? You're not alone. Find out why you might feel anxious during these months, in this article.

Whether you’re someone who is affected by anxiety in the summer or you’re trying to understand why it can be a thing, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together this article to highlight what causes anxiety in summer and some of the different ways you can manage it.

Skip to: Causes | Management | The final say

Does summer make anxiety worse for some people?

Yes, some people do find that they feel more anxious during summer as opposed to the rest of the year. But why is this? We’ve listed a few potential reasons for increased anxiety in summer below.

Why do people experience summer anxiety?

There are a whole range of different reasons why people experience summer anxiety. Whether it’s a knock-on effect from the physical side of summer or struggling with body confidence, each reason is valid. Keep reading for a little more detail…

Overheating and panic attacks

It’s normal to feel a bit hot and flustered when the temperatures rise, but this feeling may be heightened if you have anxiety. Our melatonin levels can change during summer, which can affect our circadian rhythm, which in turn affects our sleep.1

Additionally, increased temperatures may cause elevated cortisol levels, heart palpitations, nausea and fatigue.2 highlights that these symptoms may feel parallel to a panic attack, leading to increased anxiety.3

Not having a routine

The relaxed nature of the summer months can sometimes cause disruptions to your daily routines. And routines are usually commonplace for people with anxious brains, as it helps you to not worry about anything ‘new’ as everything you’re doing is safe and familiar.

In a similar vein, having more days off without much of a structure may open you up to more whirring thoughts and a busy brain, as your days might not be filled with the same daily thoughts and routine.

Body insecurities

When the weather gets hotter, our automatic reaction is to wear clothes that are cool and less covered than usual. But if you’re not comfortable with the way your body looks, this can be an added layer of stress and anxiety. But please remember, your comfort is far more important than fear of judgement – wear the short-sleeved top with pride.

Body hair

Since the warm weather generally means showing more skin, you might be feeling pressured to remove your body hair when you wouldn’t normally. The key thing to remember here is that what you do with your body hair is entirely your choice.

If you want to shave your underarms, go for it! Want to leave your leg hairs as they are? That’s perfectly fine too. You’re in charge of your own body, so try to quell the judgement you feel around your body hair and just do you.

Social pressures

In summer, there’s often an overwhelming feeling that you should be ‘making the most of it’. The suns shining, so you have to go out and enjoy it – right? Not necessarily. If you’re happy to go out and be active in the sunshine, then that’s great. But if you find it to be an added pressure, allow yourself to do what you enjoy, whether that’s chilling at home or going out with friends.

Seasonal affective disorder

SAD is something that affects people in the winter mostly, but did you know that 10% of people with it get it in the summer instead? 4 This is known as summer SAD and it can cause disturbed nights and tiredness during the day, depression, lower energy levels, reduced libido, anxiety, irritability and carb and sweet cravings.5

How to manage summer anxiety

So, what can you do to try and support yourself if you’re struggling through the summer months? From trying to regulate your temperature to implementing lifestyle changes, here are some tips for managing summer anxiety:

Keep yourself cool

Tip number one is to keep yourself cool as much as possible, to avoid triggering that panicky feeling. So if you’re planning on going outdoors, try to keep in the shade from 11am to 3pm. Also, opt for light clothing and avoid doing intense exercise in the middle of the day.

In addition to this, having cold food and drinks may help to keep you cool. And if you’ve got time, a cool shower may also help.6

Practice mindfulness

If part of your anxiety is around the social pressures and lots of plans coming up, practicing mindfulness and meditation may be worth doing. Instead of worrying about what’s on the horizon, take some time each day to really focus on the present moment. Assess your surroundings, take some deep breaths and feel the physical sensations of your body.

Be prepped with a self-soothing toolkit

To try and keep summer anxiety to a minimum, creating your very own self-soothing toolkit is another great option. Think about the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

For sight, you could read some positive affirmations or look at some photos of happy memories. For sounds, you could listen to a calming podcast, story or a relaxing playlist. For touch, why not give self-massage a go? Or take some time to stroke a furry friend. For smell, you could drop a relaxing blend of essential oils into a diffuser or just onto a tissue! And for taste, you could take the time to cook a comforting, hearty meal or treat yourself to your favourite snack.

Try some gentle exercise

Engaging in exercise releases endorphins, which in turn helps us to be more resilient to stress and boost our mood.7

Of course, we don’t recommend doing intensive exercise during the hottest part of the day. Instead, complete a workout in the morning or evening when it’s a bit cooler. Or, schedule an exercise class such as yoga or Pilates so you can exercise in an air conditioned room at any time of the day!

Engage in body positivity

Finally, if your body confidence is having an impact on your anxiety levels, engaging with body positivity may help you to accept you for you, and set you off on the road to enjoying your summers.

The things about are body that we don’t like are the things that makes us unique – and this should be celebrated, not hidden away! So remember to be kind to your body physically (think indulgent pamper sessions) and to be kind to your body verbally (hello, body positive affirmations).

The final say

And that wraps up our exploration of the link between summer and anxiety. Let these messages sink in and remember to be kind to yourself during these months. We hope that going forward you’ll be able to feel a little less daunted by the fact that summer is approaching!

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