As May arrives, we not only embrace the blossoming of spring but also prepare ourselves for the increasing presence of the sun’s warm embrace. May marks National Sun Awareness Month, making it an opportune time to delve into the fascinating interplay between sunlight, our skin, and our psychological well-being. 

The Power of the Sun 

The sun is undeniably potent in its effects on our bodies and minds. It provides us with essential Vitamin D, crucial for bone health and immune function. Exposure to sunlight can also improve mood and help regulate our internal body clock, influencing our sleep patterns and overall sense of well-being (Sarkar, 2017; Siraji et al., 2023).

However, it’s vital to strike a balance. While some sun exposure is beneficial, overexposure can lead to skin damage, premature aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. This is why sun awareness is so important – to enjoy the sun safely and responsibly! 

Your Skin and Sun Protection 

Understanding your skin type and its unique needs is key to protecting yourself from the sun’s rays. Those with fair skin are more prone to sunburn and require extra caution, whereas darker skin tones have more natural protection but are still vulnerable to sun damage. 

Always use sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protector Factor), even on cloudy days, and reapply regularly, especially if you’re outdoors for an extended period. Wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses can further shield you from harmful UV rays. 

Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) 

Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder that typically begins and ends around the same time each year, usually starting in late spring or early summer and resolving in the fall (Rosenthal, 2023). We often associate SAD with winter, when shorter days and less sunlight can lead to feelings of depression and lethargy. However, some individuals experience a different form of SAD in the summer months, known as reverse SAD (Sarkar, 2017). 

The exact cause of summer SAD is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to changes in light exposure and its effect on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin.

What Does it Feel Like?  

As observed by the Cleaveland Clinic (n.d.), individuals experiencing summer SAD may exhibit a range of symptoms, including: 

  1. Anxiety and Irritability: Increased exposure to sunlight and heat can lead to feelings of restlessness, anxiety, and irritability. 
  2. Insomnia or Poor Sleep: Longer daylight hours and higher temperatures may disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. 
  3. Loss of Appetite: Some individuals may experience a decrease in appetite, which can result in weight loss or changes in eating habits 
  4. Agitation and Restlessness: The intensity of summer can trigger feelings of agitation and restlessness in those with summer SAD. 
  5. Depressive Symptoms: While less common than with winter SAD, some individuals may experience depressive symptoms such as low mood, loss of interest in activities, and feelings of hopelessness. 

How Does it Affect Someone Suffering from It? 

Summer SAD can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and daily functioning during the warmer months. The symptoms of summer SAD can interfere with work, social relationships, and overall well-being, making it challenging to enjoy typical summer activities.

SAD can be an isolating experience for those affected, primarily because it is often underestimated or overlooked compared to its winter counterpart. This lack of awareness can leave individuals feeling alone in their struggles, as their symptoms may not align with the general expectation of joy and excitement that comes with warmer weather. 

Isolation and Misunderstanding. One of the most challenging aspects of summer SAD is the sense of isolation it can bring. While friends and family are out enjoying outdoor activities and basking in the sun, individuals with summer SAD may find themselves withdrawing or avoiding social gatherings due to their symptoms. This isolation can be compounded by a lack of understanding from others who may not recognize the validity or severity of summer SAD. 

Feeling “Not Normal”.  It’s common for individuals with summer SAD to feel like they’re not “normal” because they’re not experiencing the typical enjoyment associated with warm weather. They may question why they feel anxious, restless, or down during what is supposed to be a joyful time of year. This internal conflict can contribute to feelings of shame or inadequacy, further isolating them from seeking help or support.

Challenges in Seeking Help. Because summer SAD is less well-known and understood than winter SAD, individuals experiencing symptoms may hesitate to reach out for assistance. They may fear being dismissed or misunderstood, leading them to suffer further in silence. This delay in seeking help can prolong their distress and exacerbate feelings. 

Tips for Coping with Summer SAD

If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of summer SAD,  Pugle (2023) offers a few steps you can take to alleviate its effects: 

  1. Stay Cool: Keep your living space comfortably cool with fans or air conditioning 
  2. Manage Exposure: Try to limit direct sunlight exposure during peak hours, seeking shade when outdoors. 
  3. Maintain Routine: Stick to a regular sleep schedule and incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine 
  4. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially during extremely hot days.
  5. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional if you’re struggling with seasonal mood changes. 

Some treatment options include: 

  1. Light Therapy: Some individuals benefit from light therapy using a specially designed lightbox that mimics natural sunlight (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research [MFMER], 2022).
  2. Medication: Antidepressant medications may be prescribed to help regulate mood and manage symptoms (Melrose, 2015)
  3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Therapy techniques such as CBT can be effective in identifying and modifying negative thought patterns associated with summer SAD (Melrose, 2015). 
  4. Lifestyle Changes: Adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and managing stress can also help alleviate symptoms (Rothenburg, 2024). 

Embrace the Sun Mindfully 

As we celebrate National Sun Awareness Month, let’s embrace the sun’s benefits while prioritizing our skin health and mental well-being. By understanding the sun’s impact on our bodies and minds, we can make informed choices to enjoy the summer season safely and joyfully. 

Remember, each of us reacts differently to sunlight and seasonal changes. Listen to your body, and don’t hesitate to seek professional advice if you have concerns about your skin or mental health. 

Here’s to a sun-kissed, yet sun-smart, summer ahead! 

Stay sun-aware and stay well.  

References 

Cleveland Clinic (n.d). Seasonal affective disorder (seasonal depression). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9293-seasonal-depression  

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). (2022, March 30). Season affective disorder treatment: Choosing a light box. Mayo Clinic. May 12, 2024, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/in-depth/seasonal-affective-disorder-treatment/art-20048298 

Melrose, S. (2015). Seasonal affective disorder: An overview of assessment and treatment approaches. Depression Research and Treatment, 2015, 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/178564 

Pugle, M. (2023, May 12). Summertime SAD: 11 Ways to Chase Away the Warm-Weather Blues. Everyday Health. May 12, 2024.

Rosenthal, N. E. (2023). Defeating SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder): A guide to health and happiness through all seasons. G&D Media. 

Rothenberg, M., Nussbaumer-Streit, B., Pjrek, E., & Winkler, D. (2024). Lifestyle modification as intervention for Seasonal affective Disorder: A systematic review. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 174, 209-219. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2024.03.053 

Sarkar, S. (2017). Vitamin D for depression with a seasonal pattern: An effective treatment strategy. International Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Journal, 1(4). https://doi.org/10.15406/ipmrj.2017.01.00021 

Siraji, M. A., Spitschan, M., Kalavally, V., & Haque, S. (2023). Light exposure behaviors predict mood, memory and sleep quality. Scientific Reports, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-39636-y 

Mental health therapy has emerged as a highly effective tool in helping individuals, children, couples, and families navigate the complexities and challenges of life. Beyond just coping with difficulties, therapy offers a unique opportunity for personal growth and self-improvement. In this blog, we will explore the numerous benefits of mental health therapy, shedding light on how it can positively impact various aspects of our lives.

  1. Individual Therapy:
    Individual therapy provides a safe and confidential space for individuals to explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with a trained professional. By delving into the underlying causes of their struggles, individuals gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their patterns. This self-awareness is crucial in building resilience, enhancing self-esteem, and developing effective coping mechanisms. Through personalized treatment plans, therapy empowers individuals to overcome challenges, improve their mental well-being, and achieve their full potential.
  2. Child Therapy:
    Childhood can be a tumultuous time, marked by various emotional and developmental challenges. Therapy tailored for children offers a nurturing environment where they can express themselves freely, process their emotions, and develop healthy coping skills. It equips children with the tools to manage stress, build resilience, and navigate social relationships. By addressing emotional and behavioral concerns early on, therapy helps children lay a solid foundation for their future mental health and overall well-being.
  3. Couples Therapy:
    Healthy relationships require effort, communication, and understanding. Couples therapy provides a supportive space for partners to work through conflicts, improve communication, and deepen their connection. Therapists help couples identify patterns of negative interaction, explore underlying issues, and develop strategies for resolving conflicts. Through therapy, couples learn effective ways to rebuild trust, enhance intimacy, and cultivate a more fulfilling relationship.
  4. Family Therapy:
    Family dynamics can greatly influence an individual's mental health. Family therapy involves the participation of multiple family members to address conflicts, improve communication, and strengthen relationships. By promoting understanding and empathy among family members, therapy can help break harmful patterns and foster a healthier family dynamic. It also provides a platform for families to navigate major life transitions, such as divorce, loss, or blended families, by offering support and guidance during these challenging times.

Mental health therapy is a transformative journey that offers numerous benefits to individuals, children, couples, and families alike. Whether it is for coping with challenges or pursuing personal growth, therapy provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals to explore their emotions, develop effective coping mechanisms, and enhance their overall well-being.

By seeking therapy, individuals take a proactive step towards self-improvement and unlocking their inner potential. Embracing mental health therapy can truly be a life-changing decision, leading to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.

In the bustling landscape of mental health care, finding a clinic that truly embodies holistic support can be like discovering a gem in a sea of stones. Enter Grit Psychology – a beacon of hope and healing for individuals seeking comprehensive, multimodal treatment tailored to their unique needs.

“At Grit Psychology we offer state-of-the-art, warm, genuine, individual, couples as well as online counseling by highly skilled psychologists and therapists who have extensive training and experience.”Rameen Kargger (founder)

At Grit Psychology, we understand that mental health concerns often intersect with various aspects of life. That’s why we’ve developed a multimodal approach, assembling a diverse team of professionals, including Registered Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Kinesiologists, and Social Workers, to provide a holistic approach to wellness.

Our clinic is not bound by the confines of a single therapeutic modality. Instead, we harness the power of different approaches to meet our clients where they are on their journey to healing. From Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to exposure and response prevention, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and play therapy, we offer a versatile toolkit to address a wide range of concerns.

Speaking of concerns, Grit Psychology is equipped to tackle them head-on. Whether you’re grappling with issues stemming from abuse and neglect, academic challenges, anger management, attachment difficulties, or behavioral issues, we’re here to help! Our expertise extends to addressing concerns related to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), bullying, co-dependency, decision-making, developmental issues, eating disorders, emotional regulation, gender identity, gender transition, grief and loss, intimacy and sexual issues, LGBTQIA+ concerns, life changes and transitions, mindfulness, motivation, parenting coaching, procrastination, relationship issues, self-esteem, self-harm, separation or divorce, sleep disorders, and social anxiety, among others.

This well-rounded, holistic approach to mental health and wellness is important to Grit Psychology, as we recognize the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. By addressing the multiple dimensions of wellness, exploring root causes, promoting balance, empowering individuals, and embracing diversity, holistic therapists offer a comprehensive framework for promoting healing, resilience, and flourishing. 

Searching for mental health can indeed be a daunting and intimidating process. The mere thought of reaching out for support can evoke feelings of vulnerability, uncertainty, and fear of the unknown. Many individuals may hesitate to take the first step towards seeking therapy due to concerns about stigma, judgment, or the sheer complexity of navigating the mental health care system.

At Grit Psychology, we understand the courage it takes to acknowledge the need for support and take action towards improving your well-being. That’s why we’ve designed our services with your comfort and convenience in mind. We recognize that finding the right therapist can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack, which is why we’ve developed an innovative solution to help alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with starting this journey.

Introducing our online therapist matchmaker – your personalized guide to finding the perfect therapist for your unique needs. Our matchmaker tool simplifies the process by allowing you to select your concerns from a comprehensive list of options, similar to those mentioned earlier. Additionally, you can specify the location that is most convenient for you, whether it’s Airdrie, Calgary, Edmonton, or Red Deer. By providing your location preference, we ensure that you’re connected with therapists who are accessible and geographically convenient for you.

Once you’ve inputted your concerns and location, our matchmaker algorithm goes to work, analyzing your preferences and needs to generate a curated list of suitable therapists just for you. Each therapist in our network has been carefully vetted and selected based on their expertise, experience, and commitment to providing compassionate, evidence-based care.

With our therapist matchmaker, you can take the first step towards healing with confidence, knowing that you’re being matched with a therapist who is equipped to support you on your journey. Say goodbye to the uncertainty and hesitation – let Grit Psychology be your trusted partner in your pursuit of mental wellness.

The favorite quote by Brené Brown, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change,” encapsulates Grit’s belief in the power of embracing vulnerability to foster personal growth and transformation. Grit values taking calculated risks as a means of self-discovery and expanding one’s perspective, viewing vulnerability as a catalyst for innovation and positive change. In embracing vulnerability, you open the door to profound growth and transformation. Let Grit psychology be your companion on this journey toward healing and empowerment.

AIRDRIE, AB

Unit #17 - 620 - 1 Ave NW
Airdrie, AB T4B 2R3

SOUTH CALGARY

290 Midpark Way SE #330,
Calgary, AB T2X 1P1

NORTH CALGARY

2000 Pegasus Rd NE
Calgary, AB T2E 8K7

EDMONTON, AB

9426 51 Avenue NW, Suite 201,
Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5A6

RED DEER, AB

4915 54 Street - 3rd Floor
Red Deer, AB T4N 2G7
envelopephone-handsetmap-marker linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram