Why does it feel more lonely in the summer?
Why does it feel more lonely in the summer?
While it may seem counter-intuitive due to the nice weather and being able to be outdoors, some people can suffer from an increased sense of loneliness during the summer, especially if you’re an expat far away from your home country and family.
Sometimes in the summer there is an unexpected wave of loneliness that can punch us in the face. It makes us feel awkward, a little bit embarrassed and maybe even a little bit scared of what will come next.
One could blame SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a type of depression that follows the seasons. It is more commonly known as a "winter depression", but there is also a summer depression (although more rare), and both are related to the changes in the amount of daylight we get.
But contrary to what summer SAD explains (that you may feel "down" at the end of the spring or the beginning of the summer), there are a lot of people who feel sad and lonely in the middle of the summer, exactly at the peak of it.
Either our friends are gone for holidays in other places, we are moving to a new country or house, we are changing jobs, we are going through a transformative change in our life or we are exhausted from the busy winter period. Regardless of the underlying reason, this feeling of loneliness can be quite confusing and demanding sometimes.
That's because we seek isolation in order to rest and to put things together, but at the same time we have a need for socialising. It is contradictory, because it pushes us to act while we at the same time actually need to stay inactive for a while in order to recharge. After a while we don't know which way we want to go to.
When vacation begins to feel lonely
So, even though the beginning of the summer starts with a nice feeling (since we have the chance to take it down a notch and to recharge our batteries), somewhere at the middle of the holiday period, a feeling of loneliness secretly crawls towards us and can overwhelm us with negative thoughts.
We miss our colleagues and our work routine (surprisingly enough!), we see photos of our friends on social media with their friends and we wish we were them, and we sometimes can even feel friendless.
Our energy level falls more every day, and the feeling of isolation and loneliness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and a cycle that brings even more isolation, loneliness, shame and pain.
What can we do?
It is up to us whether we control our thoughts and feelings or whether they control us.
› Accept the change
Enjoy the fact that now our daily pace has become slower and there's going to be more time for everything. Even time for self-reflection (yes, that thing which we have been avoiding for months now) and let's get ready for that.
› Think alternatively
If all our friends are gone, it gives us the chance to find new social networks, ones we never had the chance to explore before. Loneliness is not about having friends or not. It is about the connection we feel to the people around us.
And that kind of connection we can find even by talking with a stranger standing in line somewhere. Open up to new people. Don't be afraid to reach out. Let's be ourselves around them.
› Make a bucket list
All these hobbies and unfulfilled desires we never had time for, now is the time for us to chase them. Let's keep ourselves busy, but this time with activities that please us and remind us of how much we can enjoy life.
› Embrace loneliness
Yes, we feel lonely and there's nothing wrong about that. We don't need to be ashamed of the fact that we have lost our connection with our friends and our environment.
It's only temporary and we can make something really good and rewarding out of it. And the first thing we need to do is to stop judging ourselves and setting excessively high standards. We are who we are and most and foremost we must be kind to ourselves. Let's:
› do things only for ourselves, and not because someone else likes them.
› satisfy our senses: experiment with new dishes, listen to new kinds of music, go to new places.
› go for solo-travelling: you will learn a lot about yourself and get a new-found appreciation for yourself.
› write a story that was in our mind for ages, or start a blog (or a vlog or a photo blog).
› sign up for an e-learning course.
› spend time in nature.
› do art: painting, knitting, sculpting, photography, and let's express ourselves.
› go for a photoshoot. We will be reminded of how beautiful we are from the outside as from within.
How will all of the above make me less lonely?
Loneliness is first and foremost losing connection with ourselves, because we have stopped being our own best friend. We are lonely within ourselves, and that makes us feel lonely among others.
Therefore, being kind to yourself and enjoying your time with you and only you, will help you gradually erase this fundamental feeling of isolation you feel inside.
And when you reach the point where you don't need someone else's company in order to feel whole and at peace with yourself, then the whole world will become your friend.
Do you get lonely in the summer? How do you cope with it?