We expect so much from summer, don't we? Long, lazy, sunny days. Laid-back gatherings with family and friends. Time to both relax and check off all those items on the to-do list. Rain on our gardens but not our parades. Travel that is rejuvenating and also energizing. Music festivals and food truck festivals and Renaissance festivals and Irish festivals and wine festivals and...
Summer brings all those wonderful things, and more. But summer is nobody's patsy, and she has some tricks up her sleeve to make sure we don't get too comfortable. Mosquitoes, ticks, snakes, hailstorms, raucous neighbors, egg-frying heat, allergies, sunburns, houseguests that linger, and weeds. Oh, my heavens, the weeds. On a larger scale, many parts of the world are prone to extreme summer weather events that can be physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting.
Working parents must make arrangements to keep their school-aged children safe and supervised over summer break. Their stay-at-home counterparts feel obligated to fill the days with fun, enriching activities. Then there are the social media factors--Instagram and Facebook photos of exotic vacations, fabulous meals, and frosty cocktails that can make friends and followers feel as if they somehow missed the pleasure cruise. And let's not even get into the abominable concept of the "beach body."
Creatively, summer can be hit-and-miss. I have writer friends who are quite productive during the warmer months, but many of us who have extra writing time on our hands sit and watch those very same hands struggle to produce...something. Anything.
If you sometimes feel that you're off your game during the summer, you're not alone. Summer Onset Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SO SAD, Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, or Summer Depression) is a real thing. Some psychologists suggest a biological influence, with an excess of melatonin causing a decrease in serotonin. Others researchers point to a myriad of stressors that are magnified during the summer months: disrupted sleep, exercise, and diet; financial pressure; body image issues; and heat intolerance, to name a few.
Even though I don't have SO SAD (SO GROUCHY, maybe), I was relieved to read about it, because the middle of August and the impending back-to-school season is the time when I usually start kicking myself for all things I didn't accomplish. But this year, I'm going to give myself permission to accept that summer isn't perfect. And neither am I.
If you're north of the equator, how is your summer going?