Saturday 9 July 2016

Summertime Sadness

Natasha writes about how hard the summer holidays can be when term time is over

-Natasha S. 

What happens after all the hard and gruelling work is over? Though I feel relief when all the coursework and exams are finished, I find that term time is the calm before the storm for my mental well being. I get stressed and, yes, I moan during the term, but I do enjoy the routine and hard work of university. When everything is done and completed, I find myself asking “what now?”. The sudden loss of ‘purpose’ takes its toll on me. 

Having to go back home to uncertainty seems to fill me with dread. The next logical step is to find work, however in a tiny town this isn't always an option. During the summer last year, I was lucky enough to get a job, but even then I felt those familiar negative feelings creeping on in. 

Personally, I find the summer holidays are very challenging. I almost seem to experience the reverse of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)- instead of feeling low in the winter, for me it tends to be worse in the summer. I thought that perhaps I was alone in this respect, but I came across an article shared on Facebook by the Blurt Foundation (which can be found here). This article gave some tips and advice on how to try and deal with the impact of returning home for the holidays. 

Blurt Foundation's article on summer coping tips for students

Here are some of the suggestions that I felt most important to share: 
•Create a routine.
•Have quality you time (do something that involves treating yourself). 
•Have things to look forward to. 
•Keep in touch with others.
•Set goals and keep track of your progress towards them. 
•Vitamin D (get some sun. . . safely!). This could be natural light but having spoken to a GP he suggested that light boxes can be usual as well. 
•Seek support in your local area. 

I thought this article was really helpful. Though the advice is simple on the surface, I thought that having this guidance laid out was actually very beneficial, specifically, their advice that you should make lists and tick off achievements. Looking at their advice I was able to look closely at things I had achieved, as well as things I could work on to help me with my experiences of low mood and help me to adjust to being at home again. As a result, I have really tried to give myself purposeful goals and routine.

Prior to reading that article I had already secured a temporary job, but the article spurred me on to get involved in other things as well. Something for my own personal development rather than just for financial reasons. I have been able to get involved in a challenging, but rewarding volunteering opportunity, which may help me to gain good work experience, as well as help me to look more outwards and to the future, compared to just focusing on the present and inwards (rumination is something I struggle with). I am hoping that getting involved in work and volunteering will help me to stay engaged. Stumbling across the article really helped me to realise that I'm not alone in experiencing this "Summertime Sadness" (shout out to any Lana Del Rey fans), and that there are ways that I can try and support myself. 

Shoutout to any Lana Del Rey fans

In addition to the points made I personally feel that I make a lot of social comparisons. I feel that sometimes you simply need to accept that we can all afford different things and that people all have different opportunities open to them. I feel that rather than feeling bad that you cannot afford ‘X’ or do ‘X’, look at what you can do and make the most of opportunities open to you. Perhaps look into volunteering or ways to develop yourself in ways that are accessible to you (as well as enjoyable). Everybody is different but I do like to try and challenge myself in controlled ways, and maybe this advice will help you to do this too.

Want to find out more about Seasonal Affective Disorder? We had a twitter chat with SADA about tips for students experiencing SAD - take a look here.

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