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How men can prioritize their mental health this summer

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Despite the warmer weather, longer days, and opportunity for outdoor activity, many men struggle more in the summer than other months of the year.

Often, we see an uptick in consultations and men reaching out for help in the summer. While the summer is often a time for vacation, relaxation, and outdoor adventure, for some men it can be a time of more isolation, depression, and addictive behaviour.

Summer can be a hard time for many men

As the sun shines and the temperature rises, summer is often associated with joy, relaxation, and fun outdoor activities. However, it's crucial to recognize that not everyone experiences this season in the same way. Surprisingly, studies indicate that men, in particular, may face unique challenges when it comes to their mental health during the summer months. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon and shed light on the factors contributing to men's struggles during summertime.

  1. Societal Expectations and Body Image Pressures: Societal expectations often perpetuate the notion that summer is the time for physical fitness, beach-ready bodies, and outdoor adventures. Men, like women, can feel immense pressure to meet these ideals, leading to heightened body image concerns. Many men may compare themselves to unrealistic standards, resulting in feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and anxiety. The pressure to attain a "perfect" beach body can be overwhelming and negatively impact mental well-being.

  2. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Reversal: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression typically associated with the winter months. However, for some individuals, the onset of summer can trigger a reverse SAD, leading to increased feelings of anxiety and depression. Men may find it challenging to reconcile these negative emotions with the societal expectation of being carefree and happy during the summer. The dissonance between their inner struggles and the external environment can intensify feelings of isolation and further exacerbate mental health issues.

  3. Work-Life Imbalance and Burnout: Summer is often synonymous with vacation and relaxation. However, many men face significant work-life imbalances, struggling to find time for leisure and self-care. The pressure to provide for their families and meet professional expectations can result in chronic stress and burnout. Moreover, the fear of taking time off work can create feelings of guilt and inadequacy. This constant cycle of work-related stress without proper rejuvenation can take a toll on men's mental health, especially during the summer when the contrast between their own exhaustion and the idea of carefree relaxation becomes more apparent.

  4. Loneliness and Social Expectations: While summer can be a time of social gatherings and outdoor activities, it can also exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation for men. The expectation to be socially active and engage in constant socialization can be daunting, particularly for those who struggle with social anxiety or introversion. Men who lack a robust social support network may find themselves feeling disconnected and left out, which can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. The pressure to maintain a certain level of social engagement during the summer months can be overwhelming for men, ultimately impacting their mental well-being.

  5. Increasing triggers: Many men may find the summer months lead to increased drinking, substance misuse, pornography, and compulsive sexual behaviour as their triggers increase.

So how can men experience a better, more positive season?

Prioritizing mental health is essential for everyone, including men, especially during the summer months when unique challenges may arise. Here are some strategies that can help men prioritize their mental well-being during this time:

  1. Acknowledge and Validate Emotions: It's crucial for men to acknowledge and validate their emotions, recognizing that it's okay to not always feel happy or carefree during the summer. Allow yourself to experience a full range of emotions and understand that mental health struggles can occur at any time of the year.

  2. Set Realistic Expectations: Challenge societal expectations and body image pressures by setting realistic expectations for yourself. Remember that every body is unique, and true well-being comes from self-acceptance and self-care rather than conforming to unrealistic standards. Focus on cultivating a healthy lifestyle rather than striving for a specific appearance.

  3. Practice Self-Care: Engage in activities that promote self-care and relaxation. Take time to engage in hobbies you enjoy, spend time outdoors in nature, practice mindfulness or meditation, or indulge in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction. Prioritize self-care activities that bring you joy and help you recharge.

  4. Maintain a Balanced Routine: Create a balanced routine that allows for work, leisure, and self-care. Prioritize your mental health by allocating time for activities that bring you happiness and relaxation. Set boundaries at work to prevent burnout and ensure you have time for rest and rejuvenation.

  5. Seek Social Support: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups to foster social connections and combat feelings of loneliness or isolation. Engage in social activities that align with your preferences and comfort level. Surround yourself with people who support your well-being and encourage open conversations about mental health.

  6. Practice Mindful Technology Use: Limit your exposure to social media or other sources that may contribute to feelings of inadequacy or comparison. Instead, focus on real-life connections and engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

  7. Seek Professional Help if Needed: If you find that your mental health struggles persist or become overwhelming, consider seeking professional help. Mental health professionals can provide guidance, support, and appropriate treatment options tailored to your specific needs. First Step Men's Therapy has a team of therapists that can assist you on a wide range of issues and presenting challenges.

  8. Stay Physically Active: Engaging in regular physical activity not only benefits your physical health but also has positive effects on your mental well-being. Find activities you enjoy, whether it's going for a run, cycling, swimming, or playing a sport. Physical activity releases endorphins, which can boost your mood and overall mental well-being.

  9. Practice Stress Management Techniques: Develop stress management techniques that work for you, such as deep breathing exercises, journaling, practicing yoga or other forms of exercise, or engaging in hobbies that help you relax. Find healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress and prevent it from overwhelming you.

  10. Educate Yourself and Others: Stay informed about mental health and educate yourself about common challenges men face during the summer months. Share this knowledge with others to help create a more understanding and supportive environment for mental health conversations.

Remember, prioritizing mental health is an ongoing process, and it's essential to listen to your own needs and make adjustments accordingly. By implementing these strategies, men can take positive steps towards prioritizing their mental well-being during the summer and beyond. While summer is often seen as a carefree and enjoyable season, it is important to recognize that it can also present unique challenges to men's mental health. Societal expectations, body image pressures, reverse SAD, work-life imbalances, and social expectations all contribute to the struggles men may face during this time of year. By acknowledging and understanding these challenges, we can foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for men's mental health. It is crucial to encourage open conversations, promote self-compassion, and provide accessible resources to help men navigate their mental well-being during the summer and beyond. Together, we can work towards creating a society that prioritizes mental health and supports individuals in their journey towards emotional well-being, regardless of the season.

First Step Men's Therapy offers counselling for men across Ontario, including Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Kingston, Peterborough, Sarnia, St. Catherine's, Windsor, Guelph, London, Mississauga, Brampton, Barrie, Thunder Bay, North Bay, and Oakville - to name a few.

Book a free 20 minute consultation with one of our associates today.

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