August Blues Are Real: How to Cope

Adapted from an Article Orignially Published by A. Pawlowski on

There can be something unsettling about August.

Hot and sticky, it’s summer on full blast, roasting a person's mind and body. Yet, the days are getting shorter and fall is on the horizon. 

Feeling the August blues? You’re not alone.

For some, the sadness comes from realizing that most of the year is already behind us, with Halloween and holiday ads looming. Even Starbucks seems to be rushing fall, with its Pumpkin Spice Latte. 

August has “all ingredients for a stew of blues,” said Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor in the School of Public Health at The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“For many people, it creates a feeling of funk, a feeling of down, a feeling of sadness,” Klapow told TODAY. “For a small percentage, it creates seasonal affective disorder.”

Some of the reasons you may be feeling down:

Your schedule may be chaotic

That’s especially true for parents trying to plan activities and vacations when school is out, or scrambling to prepare for back-to-school time in August.

You’re overwhelmed by nostalgia

For a lot of adults, August is a reminder that summer is no longer about carefree times at the pool or the beach. You think, “What did I used to do as a child but maybe I can’t do now because I’m working?” Klapow noted.

Your habits change

During the summer, you stay up later, go out more during the week and your eating habits may not be ideal, but you still have to go to work. That summer pattern wears your body down.

You’re overwhelmed by the heat

The heat and humidity can wear you out physiologically. “We call them the dog days of summer. It slows everything down, it slows our metabolism down. That can throw people into a funk,” Klapow said.

You feel alone

Perhaps everyone around you seems to be having a blast or going off on vacation. Social media increases the intensity of the notion that “everybody is having a good time, except for me,” Klapow noted.

You feel time passing

When August comes around, you may ask yourself: Summer is almost over, where did it go? There’s a sadness to the ending of the season, plus a time pressure component — “We’re eight months into the year.”

How to deal:

Take care of your body: Your physiological health has a huge bearing on your emotional health, Klapow said. If you’re in a funk, limit alcohol and junk food, get enough sleep and exercise.
Engage in activities you like: “What you can’t do is allow the funk to isolate you,” he advised. Spend time at the pool or go to a movie. Force yourself to do things that you would normally find pleasurable.
Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by social media: Remind yourself that for every vacation picture your friends post, there are 400 photos of them not having fun, Klapow advised.
For help coping with this or other stress, mental health counseling is available through Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County [732-777-1940] and Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Monmouth County [732-774-6886].


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