The few weeks leading up to summer vacation are some of the longest and most stressful. I’m trying to study for finals, get my life together for summer break, and keep my mental health in check when I have a million things on my plate. But when summer break hits and I’m three weeks into laying on the couch, a bowl of popcorn in my lap, and on my second rewatch of Friends, I almost can’t wait for the feeling of being busy and escaping the summer blues.
I wouldn’t consider myself a workaholic because I love my vacation days and spending a day doing nothing, but I can’t do that for very long. I feel myself falling into bad habits of lazing around all day, waking up at noon, and eating out unnecessarily.
I feel so unproductive when I don’t have anything to do or anywhere to be. I feel unmotivated to get up and do something or pursue one of my interests when I could be lazing around in my comfy pants.
Studies show that lying in bed for extended periods of time can be a sign and a cause of depression and cause serious medical issues to arise such as bed sores and cardiovascular issues.
Being in school forces me to get out of bed and take care of my responsibilities. But it also forces me to make time for my interests. I love to cook. It saves me money, it’s easier to eat healthy when I like the food I’m eating, and it’s a great way to de-stress. But it can be time-consuming. So I have to make sure I get most of my homework done before I start cooking dinner so I have time to relax and eat a meal.
Being busy and having places to be forces me to not procrastinate which is much better for my mental health in the long run.
Over this summer break, I decided to take two online classes so I wouldn’t have to over-burden myself during the school year. The classes were about 20 hours a week each, as written on the syllabus, so it was like I was working a full-time job.
But when I didn’t have to get out of bed until noon, I didn’t. Which meant that I was sitting in my room doing calculus and psychology for eight or nine hours a day. That was an awful experience because I felt incredibly isolated and constantly worried that I wouldn’t meet my deadlines. All because I couldn’t make myself get out of bed early.
I took on a much heavier workload during the school year on top of social commitments, and physical health but it was easier to get everything done when I didn’t allow myself to procrastinate.
When I feel myself falling back into these bad habits, I can feel the heaviness in my body trying to tell me to get on my feet and be productive.
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of disorder that comes and goes as the season changes. Most people feel it during the winter months because of a decrease in light and if you’re unable to go outside. I feel it during the summer.
In Arizona, I feel like winter is a blessing. But it’s so difficult to force yourself to go outside in the summer. When it’s 110+ degrees outside, the last thing I want to do is go on a hike. It is so much more appealing to sit at home in the air conditioning.
I haven’t been affected by this disorder enough to get professional help, but seasonal affective disorder can seriously hinder people’s lives and can be alleviated through light therapy, medication, and psychotherapy.
If you feel your mood change with the seasons consistently and feel it difficult to live your everyday life, it’s important to talk to someone about it instead of writing it off as the winter or summer blues.
I work hard to make positive changes in my life to avoid falling back into old habits. Even if it’s something as small as making my bed as soon as I get up, at least I have that feeling of accomplishment that pushes me to be productive the rest of the day.
Also published on Medium.