Summer Got You Feeling Blue? The Pressure of the Perfect Summer is Real

I’ve been feeling the heat lately. I don’t just mean physically — like, me sweating beads at the beach but refusing to go in for a dip, because Victoria’s ocean waters are just that cold. I mean metaphorically, too. YES. I have been spending my fair share of time basking in the sun, and soaking up July’s juicy rays. But I’ve also been craving some shade. You know, some time alone with me, myself, and I, to focus on things that don’t include finding the perfect Instagram filter for a bikini pic, or figuring out the best way to split 4 ciders 3 ways.

I know, #firstworldproblems, right?

But here’s the thing: the pressure of the perfect summer is real. I look forward to the season all year long, so by the time it arrives, the anticipation has been building for months and if I’m not making the most of absolutely every second of it, my anxiety kicks into high gear.

Like, it's a million degrees outside and of course, I want to be near a body of water, but I also have a job and responsibilities and can't just play hooky every sunny day.

And can we just talk about patio season for a hot second? I'd love to be able to join every group of friends who invite me out for patio drinks, because #FOMO, but also, it's a Wednesday and one glass of wine always leads to more and how am I supposed to get anything done this week if I just keep ending up on patios every evening?

And don’t even get me started with keeping up my social media game. Every time I scroll through Instagram, everyone I follow *appears* to be having THE BEST SUMMER EVER. And I’m all like, why am I not on a yacht in Croatia? Or laughing hysterically atop a mountain with my best friends? And where do I get one of those flamingo shaped pool floaties? And also, a pool? Comparisonitis hits hard as I scroll through my backlog of images looking for a photo — any photo — that shows me having a really nice summer time.

The reality is that as much as I look forward to summer and all that it has to offer, I generally find myself stressed out, burnt out, and altogether played out because I’m so consumed with making the most of it while still staying on top of my adult responsibilities.

The hard fact is this: despite summer being almost everyone's fave time of year, it can also be the hardest time to practice self-love. We're so busy trying to squeeze every ounce out of the short season that we don't set enough time aside for self-care and external triggers — like a perfect stranger’s Instagram feed — can send us into a spiral of summertime sadness.

In An Email Exchange About Mid-Summer Anxiety, published on Man Repeller, Leandra Medine wrote, “I feel like saying this might make me sound like the world’s biggest asshole, but do you ever feel like July is a fallacy? What I mean by that is we assume summer is coming ’round the mountain and get so excited to take it a bit easier…but then I tend to find that I am my most overwhelmed and overworked in July. This is a pattern. I have a mental breakdown every summer right around this time. Is that just me?”

No, girl. It’s not just you.

In an article published on Bustle, Gabrielle Moss brings attention to the fact that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) isn’t just an affliction of the colder, darker months and that even if you don’t formally suffer from SAD, it’s common for many people to experience heightened anxiety in the summertime — often brought on by the very things that are supposed to make summer enjoyable. “The pressure to constantly be having as much fun as everyone on your Instagram feed, the loneliness you might feel when all your friends are away on vacation, the financial stress of paying for summertime vacations, or the isolation of being cooped up indoors when it is too hot out can all make us feel bleak, despite the sunshine outside.”

 pic via Instagram

pic via Instagram

If this is all sounding relatable AF, it’s important to recognize and acknowledge your symptoms instead of blowing them off or simply classifying them under “FOMO.” It's 100% normal for you to be feeling this way. And you are 100% not alone. If cool girl chicks like Leandra Medine are suffering from mid-July breakdowns, then it's obvious the issue is widespread. So instead of plastering smiles on our faces, and swallowing down another glass of rosé, let's just get honest with ourselves (and each other) and concede to the fact that not only can we not do it all, but we don't have to do it all.  

Avoid the summer burn out by practicing self-care.

In no way am I saying to skip the patio rosé — unless of course you don’t actually want the rosé and you're only indulging “because it’s summer!" I’m saying, tune into your body, mind, and soul and give it what it needs. Maybe that means taking a break from your social media feeds or scheduling some down days in your calendar. Or maybe that means dialing back your workload and planning a trip off the grid with close friends (for the good times, not just the 'gram).

The bottom line is this: Summertime shouldn’t be an excuse to run yourself into the ground, and it certainly shouldn't be spent trying to measure up to others. Escape the pressure of the perfect summer, and just try to enjoy yourself, in real time, instead.

Ready to take charge of your summer months? Skip the anxiety with these 24 self-care rituals.