It is the season we have all been waiting for: Summer! Vacations are booked and we’re looking forward to relaxing with friends and family, eating gluttonous amounts of food and lounging about doing absolutely NOTHING. Sounds idyllic, right? The reality is that many of our so-called vacations more closely resemble that of the Griswold’s in National Lampoon’s Vacation!
For many people, summer is not all it’s cracked up to be. According to WebMD, there are a number of reasons people may feel more stressed in the summer months.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
While seasonal affective disorder (SAD) tends to be a wintertime ailment, it can also affect people during the summer months. Experts aren’t sure of exact causes, but suggest that longer days, increasing heat and humidity may play a role. Specific symptoms can include loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, weight loss and anxiety.
Body Image Issues
Many summer gatherings and vacations involve time at the beach or poolside. This can be extremely stressful for people who are self conscious about their body image. Explaining this to family and friends is difficult, so instead, people begin to avoid social situations that would require them to wear bathing suits.
Financial worries can also cause summertime stress. Vacations are expensive. Flights are pricey and with the cost of gas and tolls, driving isn’t cheap either. And that’s just the cost of getting there. Food and lodging add up quickly, too! And what about those working parents? The price of summer camps and babysitters can be staggering.
Changes in Schedule
During the summer months, routines and schedules are often drastically altered. The disruption can cause a lot of stress. The kids want to stay up later, summer sport schedules are in full swing and for some parents, just when they’ve gotten used to the “empty nest,” their college-aged kids arrive home (with all their stuff) and wreak havoc on the new normal. Vacations can disrupt work, sleep and eating habits causing the stress to mount.
Some people thrive in hot, summer weather. But for some, the heat and humidity are downright oppressive. They become hermits, staying indoors where it’s cooler, skipping workouts or walks and ordering takeout because it’s just too hot to cook. Being hot is uncomfortable for many and can lead to increased irritability, weight gain and loss of sleep.
The Impact of Stress on Digestion
Summer stress can lead to a wide variety of ailments. But it is directly related to digestive difficulties. The body’s typical stress response involves the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol from the adrenal glands. The hormones trigger reactions like an accelerated pulse. They also cause changes in the digestive system, such as sudden loss of appetite, heartburn, nausea and stomach pains. Stress also causes inflammation throughout the digestive system, which leads to aggravation of the digestive tract and affects the assimilation of nutrients. Over the long term, stress can actually cause chronic digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and stomach ulcers.
To help your body digest food properly, try to relax before you eat. Eat slowly and enjoy your food, chewing it thoroughly. Try not to dwell on stressful thoughts or situations during this time. Simply enjoy your mealtime and allow your body to utilize the nourishment it needs. Limit the amount of processed, unnatural foods you’re consuming. Natural, whole foods are the best choice for proper digestion. Consider adding an enzyme supplement to your diet. Enzymes help your body absorb the nutrients in food more effectively. Nu-Zymes from Dr. Newton’s Naturals is a proprietary blend of 6 key enzymes that help you break down the proteins, sugars and carbohydrates, dairy, fats and fibers you eat.
More Stress Relieving Strategies
There are many other things you can do to limit the amount of stress you feel this summer. Try sticking to your normal schedule as much as possible. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Keep up with your exercise routine. Many studies have found that regular physical activity can help keep stress at bay. So even if it’s too hot for your normal activities, find other ways to stay active and alleviate summer stress. Plan your vacation carefully. Ensure that it is something that will make your whole family happy. If a vacation is going to stretch your finances, make you fall behind at work and cause large amounts of stress, consider alternatives. Instead of taking a whole week off, perhaps plan several long weekends away. The “staycation” is becoming a popular option: a vacation that doesn’t involve traveling away from home, but merely planning fun things to do right in your local area.
If you’re someone who just can’t seem to avoid the stress that summer brings, you could be deficient in Vitamin B. Your adrenals rely on B vitamins to calm your body down. When you’re low in B’s, a whole list of symptoms often associated with stress can appear: low energy, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and pain such as in your joints, or headaches. A B vitamin supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals can help. Vital B Plus combines potent doses of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, B9, and B12 with top-line antioxidants (Vitamins C, E, and manganese.) It is your best defense against summer stress.