No, I’m not referring to the Lana Del Rey song. I’m talking about that crippling, deep sadness you feel in your chest when the sun is shining, birds are singing and you feel guilty about feeling sad. Yeah, that.
For the past few summers, I have consistently felt a pang of overwhelming sadness as soon as May hits. I don’t know if I’m just averse to the sunlight, or if moving back home has that effect on me, but it hits me like a brick wall. I think for me, one of my biggest worries was that people would see my self harm scars on my legs. Bathing suits are a thing, right? Honestly at this point, I don’t really care whether or not people see the thin, white scars covering my upper thighs. It was a part of my life, although not one that I like to remember, but a part of it nonetheless.
Also another great thing about the summer is wearing bare minimum clothing. As someone who is not a huge fan of their body, I often find myself wearing jeans when its 100 degrees outside just because I think people will look at my legs weirdly. Or maybe I will draw too much attention if I wear a patterned dress. Do I just stick to black and white, simple clothing so that I blend in as much as possible? My lil’ anxious brain works in mysterious ways.
Luckily, I have amazing people surrounding me. My friends and family are the best support system I could ever ask for and I would not trade them for anything. This, combined with self-growth and self-acceptance, I have developed some healthy coping mechanisms that aren’t self destructive. I want to share them with you:
This is probably the best way to get rid of the overwhelming thoughts that my anxiety fills my head with. I used to hear people talking about meditation and laugh as I imagine someone sitting in their room, alone, eyes-closed and making “ohhmmm” sounds. Trust me, it isn’t as silly as it looks in the movies. You can choose however long you would like to meditate for, but for me personally, I use this as my 20 minute break on a really stressful day.
There are some amazing iPhone apps out there there that help with guided meditation. My personal favourite is called “Calm”. As you open the app, it tells you to “take a deep breath” and plays peaceful sound effects of birds chirping. Yes, really, this exists. Like I said, there is guided meditation where you can select how long you want your session to be. There’s also a “breathe” section to help you take deep breaths and a “sleep” category that includes calm bedtime stories that are amazing to fall asleep to! Check it out here at the app store.
2. Listening to My Favourite Songs
One word: SPOTIFY. This is an online app that you can download for free that allows you to browse pre-made playlists, follow friends to look in on what they are listening to, make your own playlists based on your mood and most importantly, listen to your favourite songs. Music for me is like therapy. I can’t express how amazing I feel when I put on ‘Stubborn Love by The Lumineers’ and I hear these lyrics:
It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all
The opposite of love’s indifference
So pay attention now, I’m standing on your porch screaming out
And I won’t leave until you come downstairs
So keep your head up, keep your love
Keep your head up, my love
Keep your head up, keep your love
Nothing else could make me smile as wide while bringing instant tears to my eyes. Okay, maybe also puppies, but mostly special songs. The best part is, if you don’t want to download an app or make your own playlists, you can just use YouTube! Seriously, if you are having a bad day, put some earphones on, close your eyes and immerse yourself in the music. I promise you will feel better.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
Before you tell me to stop sounding like your mom, hear me out! After years of feeling low and having people tell me that I need to drink more water, eat more fruit (blah, blah blah), I finally took that advice and realized why everyone says that. It really works. TO AN EXTENT. The biggest difference I noticed in myself was the amount of increased energy I had when I was eating something other than junk.
Eating healthy sugars, less carbs and getting in your essential vitamins can make a world of a difference. Even if it means you have a tiny bit more energy to physically get out of bed in the morning and brush your teeth, that may be the line that needs to be crossed as a first step. This site gives some more detail into exactly what can help fight the summertime sadness and what these changes in your diet will do. My favourite way to incorporate this into my own diet is smoothies!
4. Talk to Someone
The worst part of being sad is feeling like you are alone. Trust me when I say, you are anything but alone. So many people suffer from bouts of depression, anxiety or just general mood changes – I am not saying this to invalidate your feelings, but instead, I want you to feel less alone. When I say talk to someone, I mean literally anyone. A couple of summers ago, I was going through one of my lowest lows and genuinely thought that I could talk to nobody I knew, so I didn’t. But, I still talked to somebody. Kids Help Phone was the first place I called. I even used online chat rooms and Good2Talk when I felt a little too old to be calling KHP.
If you feel comfortable, open up to someone in your life about your feelings. I know this is so much easier said than done, but it is so worth it. I just recently told my family about my anxiety and it was the biggest weight off of my shoulders. Now, not only am I comfortable explaining that, sometimes I just can’t, but I am also so much happier. There is something to be said about being surrounded by the people that you love and knowing that they can be empathetic towards what you are feeling.
5. Write it Out
Again, I know. Cliche. This is the last one on my list because it is the most recent one that I have implemented into my life. Writing out my inner feelings and thoughts! This blog, as I mentioned before, is truly a way for me to express how I’m feeling earnestly and honestly. I am a people person and I feed off of helping others and seeing that my words have an impact. Through my posts, I hope to do this for at least one person.
Throughout middle school and high school, I wrote diary entries during my most anxious and saddest times. What I now realize, however, is that these entries were not productive and did not take me anywhere but lower. Looking back, I can see that these just brought me down, more than I already was because I just wrote about how sad I was and how nothing was ever going to get better. Unfortunately, that’s exactly how I felt and so, I don’t blame former Carol. Now, I use writing as an outlet. An escape from those thoughts, not a reminder of them.
I hope you consider taking the time to read this, understand my perspective and take a step in the right direction to making yourself feel a little bit better. It is a process. Trust me, I know that. Even when no one else is there for you, be there for yourself. If you aren’t strong enough to be there for yourself, I’ll be there for you.
I would love to hear the ways that you cope with summertime sadness and suggestions you have for me. Let me know in the comments what you do for YOU.
stay anxious & brave,