Living here in Portland, we rejoice in the summertime! The rain and gray skies are FINALLY gone; we can go outside and enjoy the lovely summer air. We can also gain the Vitamin D from the sun that we have been missing for nearly 9 months. That summer sun and warm air feels so good. Summer makes it easier to drive, hike, go to the beach, camp, take vacations, eat on patios, and so much more!
It all sounds so delightful! But then, we realize, global warming is real and the regular 80 degree summers turn into 95 and 100 degree summer days. We then retreat to indoors, where we have already been September through May. Sure, there were only about 2 weeks this year where the heat was almost unbearable (and AC units sold out daily at places like Home Depot and Fred Meyer). Yet that feeling of “I just want to sit on my couch in a bathing suit, in front of the AC, and do nothing” felt like it was more intense this summer.
Many people in the Pacific Northwest are diagnosed every year with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. This is due to the winter air, rainy weather, less sunshine, and shorter days. People may start to see their moods becoming more depressed and this can affect relationships, jobs, and more. Usually, summer is not the typical time to be diagnosed with SAD.
However, I am originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, where temperatures of upwards to 115 degrees (or more) are pretty devastating, and unfortunately, pretty normal. People become depressed, angry, and irritable; they don’t want to leave their house or see friends and family because it feels so hot to do almost anything. Even getting into the car is an achievement because the inside of a car is about an average of 45 degrees hotter. The metal seatbelt will inevitably burn you, and the AC takes longer than expected to actually get cool. I believe that diagnosing Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summer is very real.
While Portland may not have temperatures over 105 degrees, and while you, yourself, may not have the diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder, summer is still difficult. This last month has been much hotter than usual, according to many weather data reports and the obvious happening of global warming.
Many of us get very frustrated and angry in the heat. Here are some ideas to keep your emotions and behaviors in check:
- Breathing exercises and cooling off body temperature before going outside
- Recognizing when you are hot and trying to cool off before conversations with anyone
- Use I statements (I am hot, I feel frustrated, I hate this weather, I need ice)
- Taking a time out and finding somewhere cool to cool off (no pun intended)
- Ask yourself, “Am I mad at this person/event? Or am I just really hot and annoyed that I am hot and annoyed?”
Maybe you're thinking, I don't feel anger or depression in the heat, but my coping skills are unavailable because going outside and practicing my hobbies is too difficult. Try some of these ideas:
- If you like sports, try indoor sports, and always stay even more hydrated in summer
- Take a class - indoor classes such as art and music (Tualatin summer camps for kids, also!)
- Stay indoors to explore - the movie or stage theater, the library, museums, etc.
- Take it to the beach! There are tons of lakes, rivers, and coastal space around and outside of Portland! The Columbia River, Trillium Lake, and the Coast!
- Try some new recipes that include cold food, cold drinks, or frozen ingredients
What are some ideas you have to cool off your anger or your body?
Counseling for depression and anxiety, whether it be due to summer or not, can help anyone and everyone! Please contact me if you liked what you read here and would like to set up a consultation and appointments. Good luck, you can do it!
*** Please always remember to NEVER leave kids or animals in hot cars! Cracked windows do NOT help. Always take them with you!
Gianna Russo-Mitma, M.S., Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern
(702) 706-1811 - Practicing in Portland, OR