Most college students look forward to the long days of summer when the textbooks can be tucked away and eight hours of sleep can be had on any given night. Yet once summer sets in, many people find themselves with a case of the summertime blues. Here are a few causes of summer depression and steps you can take to help things go a little smoother.
1. Schedule Change
Even though so many students look forward to the freedom summer provides an abrupt change in routine can throw your head into disarray. The disruption of not having somewhere to be at a certain time can actually be quite a stressful situation. According to UCLA researchers, staying on some kind of steady schedule over the summer can help improve sleep, decrease boredom and make you feel like you’re still accomplishing something.
2. Seasonal Affective Disorder
According to UCLA, as much as six percent of the United States population suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Most people with SAD suffer in the winter, when the weather is colder and days are shorter. Yet about one-tenth of those suffering from the disorder end up getting bummed out in the summer. Planning a getaway with friends can help keep you occupied and get your mind off summertime depression.
3. Financial Stress
The weight of financial stress can hit college students in the summer. Stress only compounds when the pressure is on to find a summer job and build up an egg nest for next semester. When money’s tight, spending more time with family is a great and inexpensive way to be around people who can help put your financial woes into perspective. Summer is also a great time to rework your budget and come up with a financial plan for next year.
4. Self-Esteem Issues
Summer can be tough on your self-image. The days of shorts and bathing suits tend to make people feel self-conscious about their bodies. Being embarrassed tends to make people withdraw, spend less time with friends and fall into a cycle of depression. To combat those feelings, it is important to recognize what situations trigger those awkward moments and avoid them. A good exercise routine will also work wonders for self-perception.
5. Excessive Heat
The heat of summer can bring out the worst in tensions. Granted, those days spent lounging by the beach or hanging out at the pool are great, but sometimes it is simply too hot. It is all too easy to find yourself spending more and more time indoors. The couch or bedroom can become a depressing place after you’ve spent endless hours indoors. To stay cool and get out of the house, consider a gym membership, yoga class or simply walk around an air-conditioned mall when you get antsy.
6. Intellectual Boredom
College students are used to being challenged on a daily basis. There’s always an essay to write or test to cram for. Yet once summer sets in, many people find the lack of intellectual stimuli downright depressing. A summer class can help you stay focused and knock some credits out of the way. Even when you’re off campus, there’s always the option of taking some courses online to keep your brain fresh. From online health care administration to criminal justice degrees, there are options out there for almost every field of study.
Summer is an important time for college students to regroup and relax. Getting plenty of sleep and staying sharp is an excellent way to stay on an even keel and feel refreshed for next year. The key is keeping your options open and knowing what factors trigger the summertime blues.
Julie Lee loves to write about college education and health. Some of her articles about online college degree programs like health care administration have been featured on several student publications.