By Darren Carter
Village EAP Counselor
August is here, and if you’re feeling in a funk, you are not alone. There is evidence to suggest that individuals are prone to “August Blues.”
There are several reasons why people can feel down this time of year. People see the days getting shorter and may think of August as summer ending, and that winter is right around the corner and the year is almost over. They may believe they haven’t accomplished all they set out to do at the beginning of the year.
Whatever the reason, August can bring a mixed bag of emotions. It’s important to continue to engage in healthy coping strategies. This can help prevent any negative impacts from the upcoming change in seasons.
Here are a few coping strategies that may help you if you tend to feel down this time of year:
1. Challenge negative thinking – The way we interpret situations influences how we emotionally experience them, which also influences how we respond. For example, if I have negative thoughts about August, I’m likely to feel down, which may influence me to withdraw from friends and family, isolate myself, and become irritable to others. However, if I perceive August as a whole new month of summer activities and possibilities, I’m more likely to remain positive and engage in fun activities, thereby reinforcing my positive mood.
There are many ways of looking at the same situation. If you notice that your mood is irritable and low this time of year, take a closer look at what you’re saying to yourself or about the situation. This is mostly likely what is causing the negative mood. Try challenging negative thoughts with more positive and healthy thoughts.
2. Stay mindful – Another way of enjoying the rest of summer is to stay mindful this month. Do your best to be present in the moment, enjoying what this month has to offer. When you are outside, enjoy the warmth of the sun against your skin, the feeling of grass between your toes, and the wind through your hair. When we are so caught up with thoughts about the future, we are not able to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. Slow down and be mindful.
3. Exercise – Exercise is a great way to alleviate stress. Exercising releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine into our system, responsible for the feeling of pleasure. Being active can go a long way in preventing symptoms of depression.
4. Plan a trip – Planning a trip can help people stay excited as they look forward to their next adventure. The trip does not have to be extravagant or break the bank. It can be something as simple as getting out of town for a day or a weekend.
5. Get connected – There is no greater feeling than connection to others. Making regular plans with family, friends, and significant others can keep us feeling good about ourselves and our relationships, and can help protect us from sliding into a funk this time of year.
Remember, The Village is here to help you cope during difficult times or with negative emotions. Call 800-627-8220 to schedule an appointment or contact us online.
As an Employee Assistance Counselor with The Village Business Institute, Darren Carter helps clients better cope and overcome life stressors to achieve their goals and promote wellness. He is trained in and implements evidence-based practices for a variety of mental health concerns into his practice with individual and couples counseling. Darren received his Master of Science in psychology and Master of Education in counseling degrees from North Dakota State University in Fargo. He is a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor and National Certified Counselor. His specialties include anger, anxiety, depression, grief, obsessive-compulsive disorder, self-esteem, stress, and trauma.