Fun in the Sun

By Amy Tilley, PsyD, Clinical Director, Desert Star Addiction Recovery Center


Summer is just around the corner with the arrival of the summer solstice. For those of us who live in Arizona, the summer heat has already arrived— but officially summer arrives on June 20th in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the longest day of the year, and leading up to the solstice we’ve been gaining daylight each day for the past several months.

With longer daylight hours, the additional sunlight can have a positive effect on our mental health and mood, giving us an added boost of vitamin D. Light is the strongest cue to regulate our circadian rhythm, which aids in our sleep cycle, hormone fluctuation, and body temperature — these generally follow a 24-hour pattern.


The struggle in the hot AZ heat

For Arizonans, summer months can be more difficult as temperatures can soar well above 100 for much of May through September. You may notice a change in your mood, feeling better in the winter, when the temperature is more tolerable, and we can spend more time outdoors. This is known as summer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People may stay indoors more often, as it is too hot to be outside in a safe manner. In the heat you may feel sluggish, struggle with insomnia, or have symptoms of anxiety or depression, all are common with summer SAD, especially if you spend more time in your home during the sweltering summer months. Staying hydrated is important in Arizona’s hot summer months because it can help prevent dehydration and other heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

With the summer months comes time spent on vacations: going to the beach, attending barbecues, camping, and endless travel for sports tournaments (for those of you with children). These activities can be fun but stressful at the same time. Don’t let your recovery suffer at the expense of having a full calendar. Be prepared to balance your time at home and with social events. Remember that it is ok to say ‘no’ to a commitment you don’t want to attend.


Tips to cope with summer blues

What can you do to cope with the potential summer blues and added calendar appointments?

Prepare — June is always on the calendar…so make a point to plan out your summer schedule and activities that are important to you.

Attend therapy or 12 Step meetings—don’t take a ‘vacation’ from therapy sessions or 12 Step meetings just because you are on vacation. There are 12 Step meetings around the world. Find one! Many therapists offer now telehealth services and can allow for a vacation session, even if you are out of state (check with your therapist).

Get enough sleep. Just because it is light outside much longer in the evening, doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice your bedtime routine.

Exercise. Keep up with your routine…just start earlier in the morning so that you are safe and not at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Talk with your doctor. If you are being prescribed psychiatric medication, ask your doctor if a dosage change is necessary in the summer, to help manage the summer blues.


Amy Tilly has 20 years experience in the mental health and addiction recovery field. 

Learn more at   /   Contact: 520-638-6000