Ah, summertime. The season of sunshine, beach days, and carefree living…right? 

Not for everyone. 

For some, summer can bring on a wave of unexplained sadness and anxiety. 

If you’ve ever found yourself feeling down during the warmest months of the year, you’re not alone. It’s a phenomenon known as summertime sadness, and it’s more common than you might think. 

So, what exactly is summertime sadness? 

Summertime sadness is a type of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that occurs during the summer months, rather than the winter. 

While winter SAD is often associated with a lack of sunlight, summertime SAD can be triggered by the opposite – too much sun exposure, high temperatures, and longer days. 

But why does this happen? 

What causes summertime sadness?

There are a few theories:


Summer often means a change in routines, which can be unsettling for some. Kids are out of school, leading to changes in family dynamics and daily schedules. Work routines may shift, with colleagues taking vacations or working reduced hours. There’s also a societal pressure to make the most of the summer months, leading to packed social calendars and a fear of missing out (FOMO). All of these disruptions can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. 


Longer days and shorter nights can disrupt our natural sleep-wake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. Exposure to sunlight late into the evening can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. This can lead to insomnia, daytime fatigue, and mood disturbances. Coupled with the heat and humidity of summer, sleep disturbances can exacerbate symptoms of summertime sadness. 


While moderate sun exposure is beneficial for vitamin D production and overall mood, too much sun can have the opposite effect. Excessive exposure to UV rays can cause skin damage, dehydration, and heat exhaustion, all of which can contribute to feelings of fatigue and irritability. Additionally, research suggests that prolonged sun exposure can actually lower serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. 


Summer often brings a heightened focus on physical appearance, with the pressure to have a “beach body” or fit into summer clothing. Social media can intensify this pressure, with endless images of seemingly perfect bodies and idyllic summer vacations. For those who struggle with body image issues, this can lead to feelings of inadequacy, self-consciousness, and low self-esteem. The fear of judgment or comparison can also lead to social anxiety and avoidance of summer activities. 

How can we combat summertime sadness? 

Here are a few tips: 


While it may be tempting to abandon all structure during the summer months, maintaining a consistent routine can provide a sense of stability and normalcy. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, even on weekends. Schedule regular meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar stable. Block out time for work, relaxation, and socializing, and try to stick to your schedule as much as possible. 


Exercise is a natural mood booster, releasing endorphins that can help combat feelings of depression and anxiety. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, whether it’s a brisk walk, a swim, or a yoga class. If the heat is a concern, try exercising in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler, or opt for indoor activities like strength training or dancing. 


Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment, without judgment. It can help reduce stress, anxiety, and negative thought patterns. Set aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. You can also incorporate mindfulness into your daily activities, such as eating, walking, or even brushing your teeth. 


What we eat can have a significant impact on our mood and energy levels. During the summer months, it’s easy to indulge in sugary snacks, processed foods, and alcoholic beverages, all of which can lead to blood sugar imbalances and mood swings. Instead, focus on eating a balanced diet rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. 


If your summertime sadness persists or interferes with your daily life, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional. A therapist can help you identify the underlying causes of your sadness and develop coping strategies to manage your symptoms. They can also provide a safe and supportive space to process your emotions and work through any challenges you may be facing. 

At New Leaf Counseling and Wellness, we understand the impact that summertime sadness can have on your overall wellbeing. 

Our compassionate and experienced therapists are here to support you every step of the way, providing individualized care that meets your unique needs and goals. 

If you’re ready to take the first step towards overcoming summertime sadness, we invite you to reach out to us today.