Living in Britain you can’t ever be sure what the summer months will serve up, but one thing is for sure, August is undoubtedly still summertime. So why then are more and more people feeling so blue before the season is even over?
Anxiety UK told HuffPost UK that although there aren’t large scale studies confirming the so-called August Blues, they are increasingly seeing “a lot of people” experiencing anxiety as the summer is drawing to an close.
“We certainly have calls from people who contact us as they are concerned that their anxiety condition might worsen with the onset of autumn and winter,” a spokesperson revealed. “It does seem that summer is the fun and more relaxed time of the year and that autumn heralds the start of back to work and seriousness, and this can trigger a form of anticipatory anxiety.”
Mental health charity, Mind, also agreed with this overview, explaining: “While research doesn’t show a clear link between seasons and depression, lots of people find their mood drops at this time of year.”
So what is it that is causing such August angst?
Your holiday is probably over.
Whether or not you’ve had a chance to go abroad this year, the likelihood is that any big summer plans you had have passed now, and maybe you don’t have much to look forward to on the horizon.
Chloe Brotheridge, an author and anxiety expert at Calmer You said: “Summer can carry a lot of expectation to have fun, to jet off abroad or have good weather at home with BBQ’s, rooftop cocktails and long balmy nights outdoors and if these things don’t materialise for you, you might feel you’re missing out or that your summer was wasted.”
Add to this the fact that we see snaps on social media of everyone else having amazing fun on holiday and it can leave us feeling a little sorry for ourselves.
You feel like you’re going back to school.
For school-age children (and their parents), back-to-school shopping and the impending early mornings of September give clear parameters to the summer.
Despite not having been at school for decades (and not having children), adults can also still undergo a symbolic transition from August to September as we are conditioned to think of summer in a three-month window from an early age.
Anxiety UK told HuffPost UK: “For many this time of year is associated with the start of the academic term, which whilst for some is a trigger to start new things and take up courses and hobbies, for others this time of the year may trigger memories that are not so happy and which may play into feelings of low self-esteem and confidence.”
You are less busy in day-to-day life.
Not only do you not have as many grand plans as you did at the beginning of summer, you’re also more likely to be quiet in the office as many people are away on holiday, or business has wound down for a period meaning we are less productive and getting less done.
Brotheridge said: “This can be a problem especially if being productive, keeping busy and seeing friends feels important for your happiness.”
You feel the year is passing.
Not only do many people find themselves fixating on September and all that this entails, but there is also a gradual movement into the next season, and the realisation that we have long passed the halfway mark for this year - all those things we were going to achieve.
“Hitting the eighth month of the year reminds us of the passing of time and we ask ourselves where has the summer gone!? Unhappiness can come when there’s a gap between how we think things should be and the reality. If we were expecting a summer of love in the sunshine, but we’re stuck in an office and it’s raining outside, it can be disappointing,” said Brotheridge.
You notice the light changing.
Although we are (thankfully) nowhere near those short winter days that mean we arrive at work in the dark and leave in the dark, there is a sense that they are approaching. Especially if the weather isn’t playing ball.
Rachel Boyd, Information Manager, at Mind, said: “For some people the change in day length and lack of sunshine can have a much greater impact on their mood and energy.”