For introverts and highly-sensitive people, summer can be exhausting. Learn why this happens and ways to prevent summer overwhelm.
I don’t know about you, but lately, I’ve been tired. A sense of exhaustion that sleep can’t seem to cure. I have low creativity, low motivation, and low desire to do much of anything. This isn’t a new feeling for me, I felt it last year, too.
Are you feeling the same?
You might be feeling the effects of summer overwhelm.
Understanding Seasonal Rhythms
The seasons are the manifestation of the earth rotating, providing us seasonal changes as periods of growth, bounty, and rest.
And we as humans also experience cycles, the times of birth and growth of Spring, exploration and flourishing of Summer, the harvest and decline of Fall, to the rest and reflection of Winter.
These cycles might happen on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or even decade rotation. It could be the season of an idea, a new project, an emotion, or physical life itself. But the rhythms we experience inside ourselves, our minds and our soul, might not correspond with the seasons outside our door.
As a highly-sensitive person and an introvert, I thrive in winter. Winter is a season of inside, of muted colors, of quiet, of stillness. Here in seemingly perpetually sunny and inferno summer temperatures of California, it’s also a time of being able to spend days outside, comfortable in more temperate conditions. Slow walks, connecting with the Earth. The rare rainy days allow permission to retreat inside, both physically and mentally, for musing and contemplation.
For many, winter would be seen as a period of rest. But for people who are driven more by emotions and their inner-self, I think winter is the time when we are most awake, most alive. We are in our element.
You Have Permission to Rest In Summer
For me, winter is the time of growth. And summer is the time of rest.
Which can be disconcerting and difficult to manage when the days are long and bright, with endless activities and parties. Summer champions to an extroverted society, all the pressure to “get out and have a good summer”.
But I give you permission to rest.
Ways to Prevent Summer Overwhelm
Forget #fomo, adapt the philosophy of #jomo: the Joy of Missing Out. Unless an invitation positively thrills you and makes you sparkle, then say no. There is so much pressure to be out doing things, finding ways to fill the days. If you want to miss that pool party, say no, and grab a book and your cat and head to the couch.
Find Ways to Still be Outside.
When it’s miserably hot out, or the bugs are awful, it can be hard to enjoy being outside. Try and adapt your routine to get out very early in the morning, or load up on bug spray, and maintain a daily nature practice.
There are days when it’s 100+ degrees and I have no desire to go outside. But, I find that if I miss my daily forest bathing, I feel considerably lost and disconnected the rest of the day. I’ve made it a priority to get up earlier and head out before breakfast to get my nature fix in.
All the colors and brightness of summer can be great, but it’s also overstimulating. Especially for an HSP, reducing the sensory inputs can allow us to calm our overwhelmed systems, and allow us to feel again. Try closing the curtains and bask in darkened rooms. Avoid wearing the neon colors just because they are trendy and on sale. Seek quiet spots to visit instead of loud festivals. Turn off the TV and read instead. Create hours or days of screen-fasts. Wear loose flowy clothes that aren’t constricting.
Summer vacations from school, trips for weddings and showers, different work hours to accommodate daylight or events, friends and relatives visiting, places to go, people to see. all things that might shift from ‘normal’ daily routine, which can cause unbalance and overwhelm. Try and adapt as much of your normal routine as possible, such as making sure to continue a morning cup of tea, regardless of where you are.
Put Things on the Calendar
I’m all for spontaneous stop-bys of friends or improvisational game nights. Most of the time. But if I’m already overwhelmed (ie, summer), such sudden happenings can be hard to handle. Instead, try and make plans for a few days ahead, or farther out, so you can mentally prepare.