By: Doa Jamal, Francis College of Engineering Well-being Leader
Summer is supposed to be about fun right? For a lot of us, that’s not entirely true. Many of us feel the need to be productive during the summer. We view summer as the time to be able to get new experiences without worrying about classes and the additional stresses that come with the academic year. However, when summer starts to crawl near, the summer anxiety starts to hit. What am I doing this summer? How can I get the most out of it? I have so much I need to do, how can I do it all?
Summer anxiety often stems from a change in routine and a new lack of structure. There is also the pressure to have fun. When people think they are not having enough fun in the summer or are constantly comparing themselves to others, it can lead to depression. Summer anxiety is also a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Experts suggest that this is due to the increased sunlight throwing off our circadian rhythm, which often results in individuals sleeping less. Additionally, dealing with higher temperatures, humidity, sweating, etc affects people’s mental mindset, sometimes making people more irritable and negative.
Here are some tips on how to deal with Summer Anxiety:
- Have a plan beforehand.
I know we may not want to think about it, but it is definitely better to have a plan beforehand rather than start planning late or go with the flow. When summer hits and you have no idea what you’re doing, you’re likely to be more anxious. Pre-planning your summer will help to reduce anxiety.
- Take action steps to prepare for your summer experience(s).
If you’re planning on having an internship or summer job, start applying during the spring. If you’re planning on shadowing a Doctor, reach out to their clinic beforehand. If you’re planning on taking a trip, book the flight earlier for cheaper tickets and plan your trip. If you’re planning on taking a summer course, make sure you enroll early before the class fills up.
- Try not to stress about having fun.
There is societal pressure, pushed forward by social media, to have a “gram-worthy” summer fun experience. People post on social media photos of being on yachts, being at the beach, etc. While it is not necessarily bad to post on social media, it is also not necessary for you to do so to have the same type of experience. There are countless experiences that you can do that you will find enjoyable. It does not have to be large. It may just be spending some time with family or friends every once in a while. Movie marathon anyone?
- Avoid the heat but still make sure to enjoy the nice weather
Be sure to avoid the heat and humidity, especially if you’re more sensitive to higher temperatures. But be sure to go outside every now and then to get some fresh air. The weather tends to be nicer in the early morning or in the evening. Some people enjoy taking walks at night in the summer. There is much research (see sources 1 and 2) that shows that engaging with nature helps with emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
- Don’t be afraid to get help!
This can include speaking to a friend about your anxiety. Just talking to someone often helps a lot. You can always come talk to me or other Well-Being leaders during our office hours (see link below). If your anxiety is more severe or you would rather speak to a professional, you can reach out to your therapist or explore the options that UML offers. Lastly, you may consider speaking with your doctor or a psychiatrist about medication to treat anxiety and/or depression.
To talk to a Well-Being Leader:
If you would like to speak to an UML counselor: https://www.uml.edu/student-services/counseling/
Check out Togerall, a FREE mental health peer support community: https://tinyurl.com/y8jveemp
Have a ~good~ summer (on your own terms!) and see you in the fall!