The Summer Sun Isn’t Always So Sunny
Summer. Hot, sunny days and warm, humid nights. Vacations to destinations far and near. Sleeveless tops, shorts, and swimsuits. Barbecues, pool parties, and cookouts with family and friends. Long days dedicated to fun and relaxation.
The summer is relentlessly romanticized as a time for us all to kick back and enjoy ourselves – free of worries and cares.
But for many, those same features of the summer months that give pleasure and happiness to others are triggers for behavioral health challenges. The sheer expectations of the summer can create a standard of enjoyment, which if unmet, can make some feel inadequate, left out, or simply not “normal.”
The high temperatures of summer alone are enough to endanger an individual’s emotional well-being. There’s research indicating that higher ambient temperatures lower the experience of positive emotions and increase both negative emotions and fatigue. Moreover, the heat may keep those most sensitive to it locked indoors and potentially isolated from support networks.
Summer vacation and travel represent both a break to existing routines – which can have deleterious effects on individuals with a range of behavioral health disorders – and social pressure to have a “social media-worthy” vacation. Some people may even feel an obligation to take a vacation despite having no actual inclination to do so. In turn, this adds additional pressures and stressors.
Beach season is time for swimsuits, tank-tops, and exposed skin. But for those with concerns about their body image, it can be a particularly challenging time of year to navigate. Particularly in adolescents, body image concerns are linked to an increase likelihood of experiencing depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.