Help me make the most of summer even when I hate it
June 2, 2018 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Sunny, warm weather makes me sad for some reason

I am that weird Canadian who hates summer. The warm and sunny weather always brings up difficult feelings for me and makes me a bit depressed. The main things that bother me are:

- I don't like the heat (recently got AC, so at least I have a cold place to live)
- The humidity gives me migraines and makes me unable to concentrate
- I don't like summer clothes. I'm self conscious about my arms, so I've never liked sleeveless clothing. I find it really hard to find summer clothes that I can actually feel attractive in, since I prefer to cover up and wear darker colours. I do like wearing dresses, although at the same time I don't like dressing super feminine and it's hard to find dresses that are both comfortable and not coquettish. Most of the summer clothing I see on sale in the malls makes me feel like I would look like a ridiculous prancing flamingo. I'd feel more like myself wear a big baggy wool sweater with leggings and a toque.
- I don't like seeing everyone else in summer clothes and sunglasses and tans. It makes me feel like everyone else is out living the good life and I'm not having such a glamorous experience. I only recently started wearing sunglasses but I kind of feel douchey wearing them even now. I'm just not one of "those" people.
- Every summer, since grade school, I always feel an overwhelming sense of abandonment. Like everyone is going away on amazing vacations or leaving for the cottage, places they'd rather be, while I'm stuck in the same place as always. I do have a vacation coming up in June, but I don't like traveling alone, and I find travel stressful and expensive. I also instinctively feel there's something sickening about this need to "Escape" your life, and always thinking there's somewhere better to be than where you are.
- I always feel an overwhelming loneliness in summertime. Just walking down the street seeing all these loud people drinking and laughing at terrasses, or having picnics in the park... it feels like every day is a party and I was not cool enough to be invited. all the restaurants, bars, and parcs seem so full of loud, drunken, skimpy-clothes wearing people. The sheer number of them overwhelms me. Can't they go back inside??
- I feel guilty for staying inside, even though the outside is so crowded and overwhelming. The sun is shining... why am I not out there living it up?
- I don't know if this has something to do with it, but my father died suddenly when I was a child, and it was smack in the middle of summer while I was at a friend's cottage, but that was a long time ago and I've worked out my feelings towards it as far as I know
- summer was hell when I was a teenager as I lived in the middle of nowhere with no public transportation, and had crippling social anxiety so I never did anything that normal teenagers do for fun like parties, dating or socialising with new people. My university years were similarly lonely during summertime. Just the feeling like everyone is leaving me for greener pastures.
- My city is FULL of festivals, like every weekend there are several. Why is this a bad thing you ask? Firstly they are all so crowded, hot, and sweaty, three conditions which I hate. Second, alll the streets are closed, so the rest of the city has traffic gridlocks. And third, drunk people are so loud, and I don't like loudness. The whole city just begins to feel like a giant, stinking, loud, hot meat market.

Whew, now that that's out of my system, does anyone have any tips for how I can make the summer seem less horrible? My life is objectively not that bad. I have a job at a really cool company, live in a nice neighbourhood, am single but don't have trouble with dating, still have a parent and close childhood friends back at home, and have interesting hobbies that keep me somewhat busy, though my social life could use a boost. I also know that a lot of people love the hot weather and think of summer as the best time of the year, and it's not my intention to rain on their parade. I'm happy for them, I just wish I didn't have to feel so miserable at the same time.
posted by winterportage to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

Re summer dresses:
Seriously. Cheap, comfy, pockets (!) Wearing a similar black one right now in NC summer
posted by atomicstone at 6:52 PM on June 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

Thanks, atomicstone! Order placed! I’ve been looking for something just like that.
posted by greermahoney at 7:04 PM on June 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

One thing I love about Montreal in summer is that you're allowed to drink in the parks! (I live in Toronto where it's technically illegal to do so). I think a beer, a salty snack, and a book, lying on a nice cool cotton sheet under a tree, is a pretty idyllic way to spend an hour. Pick a small, relaxed park- not one of the really packed ones, those are way too intense (and I agree that street festivals aren't nearly as much fun as they're said to be!) Sunscreen, quiet, and shade definitely make summer better.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:56 PM on June 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

How do you feel about nature? If I were you, I'd drive out of the city every weekend to spend at least a few hours hiking in the woods or sitting with my feet in a cool stream reading a book. You might appreciate summer more if you were alone in a beautiful, peaceful place instead of surrounded by crowds of loud, sweaty people who might be judging how you look in summer clothes or having more fun than you. Maybe getting out into the country isn't your thing, but that's what would make summer way better for me.
posted by Redstart at 8:16 PM on June 2, 2018 [12 favorites]

To shake off the guilt about staying inside (and also to get away from the heat and light and crowds), how about making extra time to visit museums, cathedrals, or other similarly pleasant indoor spots?
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 8:34 PM on June 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

I also instinctively feel there's something sickening about this need to "Escape" your life, and always thinking there's somewhere better to be than where you are.

I like my life a lot, but I also really enjoy seeing new places. Travel is a bit of a hassle, but like everything else the more you do it the better you get at it, so it gets the easier and less stressful.
posted by aubilenon at 8:34 PM on June 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

Uniqlo has a bunch of bag shaped dresses that are incredibly comfortable. Pair them with a light cardigan if they're sleeveless for a look that isn't at all frilly but can still keep you cooler in summer.
posted by asphericalcow at 10:04 PM on June 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is what the summer blockbuster was made for. During the hot summer days go see a double or triple features - hello AC. The evenings are cooler and dark - find places to sit and enjoy cool drinks after dark.
posted by Toddles at 10:52 PM on June 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

It is totally fine and normal to not like crowds or loudness or hotness.

You do sound a bit lonely, though, which may be driving your resentment of these loud drunken people who are enjoying their summer in ways that you do not. Perhaps there is a more preferable group activity you can find? Crafting in a park, going to museums, hiking in shady forests? Check your local meet ups, or maybe start one that appeals to you. I’m sure you’re not the only person looking for diverting summer activities that don’t involve sweating through your top on a bar patio.

As for clothing, I am addicted to wearing long, sheer kimono-style wraps over summer dresses (they are super popular right now so you have tons of options).
posted by ananci at 10:54 PM on June 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

I'm a huge night owl, so this sort of thing might fit better into my schedule than it would to yours, but I love nighttime summer walks in the side streets of the city. It's warm and balmy, but without the daytime sun blazing. Wear something loose and floaty, and wander around empty residential streets. The gardens and trees have a totally different beauty by streetlight. Roam around a nice quiet neighbourhood in the evening and it feels a bit like the city belongs to you alone.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:01 PM on June 2, 2018 [8 favorites]

I loathe summer. To survive it, I invested in black out curtains for every window. The air conditioning is on a timer so that when I get home, it's cool and dark. I go to the earliest movie time on a weekend so I miss those crowds. My desktop and phone backgrounds and screensavers are all snowy scenes. I focus on finding activities that keep me cool. I hate the beach (in the summer), so I just don't go. Part of getting through summer, for me, is accepting that I'm not going be like other people.

Summer can fuck right off: parks full of dog shit, bugs, bees, the heat, the brightness of the sun, that it never cools down even at night, accidentally brushing against a stranger's bare skin. Shudder.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 11:11 PM on June 2, 2018 [28 favorites]

I was always a bit grumpy about summer myself, though I do enjoy some summer activities, until I moved to a city where humidity in the summer is not really a thing, and where it rarely goes above 90F. I suspect that I may be susceptible to reverse SAD, but moving to this city has helped that a lot. So maybe it would be good for you to take a vacation somewhere it won't be so hot and humid? I have friends who went to Ireland in the summer and they were freezing the whole time. Or you could go somewhere in the southern hemisphere, where it's winter. Even somewhere on the coast, where the breezes keep things fresh. I know you say you don't like to travel alone, but is there someone who lives in a cooler place who you could visit? Or could you ask a friend to go with you?

BTW, there's nothing wrong with wanting to get away! Sometimes it's just really helpful to get a change of scenery. It's not like people going on vacation are leaving everything and starting a new life.

Some other things:

- There have been a lot of ask metafilter threads about hating summer. I have found them really helpful to read.
- When I spent two summers in DC a couple of years ago, I found the best solution was to lean into the summery things I did enjoy (drinks on patios after dark, going to the beach with my dog, barbecuing), while making my apartment a lovely, cool, dimly-lit respite for the summer for when I just couldn't deal. I think doing either of these things (leaning into the few things you enjoy about summer, while allowing your home to be a respite) is a good balance to strike and it helped me a lot.
- You might want to seriously look into whether or not you have reverse SAD. To me, your irritation at all the people having fun seems like a potential sign that you are experiencing some level of depression. I look back on some of the cranky summers I had in the past and I definitely think I was depressed on some level, even if it was pretty much just situational.
- Last summer I discovered short-sleeved jersey swing dresses and it was miraculous. At least here in the US, Old Navy sells them for $25 in a variety of colors and they are extremely comfortable and flattering to all shapes. I'm wearing one right now!
posted by lunasol at 11:17 PM on June 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

Not everyone loves the Summer. I think its perfectly normal to want to feel comfortable in your clothes and not be surrounded by noisy drunken people - kids usually. Summer is quite a good time to not be in the city and, as for taking your vacations alone, it doesn't need to feel like that. I am a great fan of activity holidays where you hook up with a lot of people and do something you all enjoy - painting, walking, singing - whatever. These are group activities so nobody needs to be on their own. It certainly beats staying in the city.
posted by ncouchman at 1:22 AM on June 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I live in a beautiful place that's mobbed with loud obnoxious sweaty tourists who don't know how to drive every summer. I hate it, and do the same thing that people who live here all year long and aren't required by their job to serve those tourists do; I stay strictly away from all of the places they congregate. This includes some very beautiful places that I miss being at in the summer, but every fall it's all the sweeter to go there when it's quiet again.

I hate cities in the summer for all the reasons you describe. I don't go there. If I lived in one, I would keep to my cool serene home and make it a priority to work out the quietest times and routes to go and be anywhere. This is all just to say I don't think there's anything abnormal or strange or requiring therapy in feeling the way you do. In a way I treat summer the way people traditionally think of winter: as a time of rest and hiatus to get ready for fall winter and spring when active life really happens.

And I'm eagerly checking out the links above for non-frou-frou comfortable summer clothes.
posted by Gnella at 3:24 AM on June 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

I also hate to go sleeveless and my least favorite thing about summer is the clothing. My main summer uniforms are maxi skirts with an Everlane T-shirt or “cocoon” style dresses. Everlane definitely ships to Canada, and I’ve found their stuff is very high quality. Old Navy often sells cocoon dresses, too, though they’re less durable and sometimes too short for my taste.
posted by katie at 5:28 AM on June 3, 2018

The bright sun hitting the top of my head is what triggers my summer migraines. Hats and sunglasses have become non-negotiable and this has made summer much less terrible.
posted by sadmadglad at 6:00 AM on June 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

I find it really hard to find summer clothes that I can actually feel attractive in, since I prefer to cover up and wear darker colours.

There’s a lot of clothing made for exactly this circumstance, for people who live in hot countries that have a lot of modesty rules. I would try googling “hijab fashion clothes” - fashionable clothing that is designed to be worn with hijab, but is not itself religious clothing so it is okay for non-Muslims to wear. This shop has a lot of cute dresses that still cover your arms and legs but are billowy and gorgeous and look very cool.
posted by corb at 6:07 AM on June 3, 2018

I just came here to say that I'm a fellow Canadian living in a gorgeous, festival heavy and tourist heavy city and I also tend to get the summer sads! I very much resonate with this.
My intention this year has been to go lay on the beach during less busy, less hot times and physically acclimatize to the sun. I'm enjoying shady corners where I can find them. Going to the gym on days when everyone weekend is at o don't know a parade or something. Actively dealing with my depression. Being as social as I can stand to minimize that abandonment feeling (o really relate to that one).
posted by elke_wood at 7:58 AM on June 3, 2018

well, i'm like you but the opposite - i hate winter, because my body doesn't tolerate cold well - but when I lived in a big city I would definitely have fear of missing out on summer weekends when I didn't have plans. Cities have a sad side, this way, I've found. anyway, i'm really sorry for your struggle, if it's as bad as my winter misery, it's really bad... I've even gotten so squirrel-y about winter that it's rubbed off on summer - because i feel so pressured to get everything done during my more functional time of year with longer days and less blues. I start worrying about summer ending before it's even begun. It's just two sides of one coin in a way.. but what I *really* came to say was: how about *linen*? Especially linen pants! But in your case also linen shirts, I bet, might help.. it really is cool , and it dresses up well. Here we have tj Maxx & Marshall's, not sure what the Canadian equivalent might be, but right now they have a lot of $20 USD / pair linen pants in stock.. for whatever that's worth. good luck.
posted by elgee at 2:23 PM on June 3, 2018

I could've written so much of this! I only picked up on how badly Summer affected my mood last year, and when the penny finally dropped I began to see the pattern throughout the last few years. For me, it's at least partially down to the cultural weight of the season/organised fun/FOMO aspect. Everyone goes on and on about how great it is, but what helped was when I started to ask people exactly what they did when it was hot and discovered it was stuff that I either didn't mind but didn't hugely adore (BBQs, music festivals) to things where the appeal is totally lost on me (beaches, tanning, sitting in the park getting drunk, sports).

I think acknowledging it is incredibly helpful. I like to choose a couple of projects to keep myself occupied, but with the understanding that I have less energy/drive when it's hot (this is the core of the issue for me - I like to be productive, Summer is anti-productive). Try some new recipes, eat seasonal fruit and veg, read a book a week, go to the blockbusters, organise my space (Summer is actually a great time for a Spring clean), do some dorky crafts.

The other things I swear by are continually reminding myself that it's OK/natural to feel worn out and less energetic, and to keep myself extra hydrated. I say yes to fewer things, and watch out for comparing my reality with other people's highlight reels, and keep in mind that it's allowed to be easy on myself.

Best of luck!
posted by Gin and Broadband at 6:23 AM on June 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

(I read your question and thought “Wow, that could be my city. Surprise! It is.)

One way I’ve found to derive some pleasure in what is otherwise a complicated season for me is to grow something. We don’t have much outdoor space, but what little we do is given over to potted herbs and a few flowers. It’s not like I’m out there much tending them. Just some water in the morning most days.

Needless to say, we’re not growing things outside here in the winter, so this is a way that can help balance the less pleasant aspects of the season.
posted by veggieboy at 7:57 AM on June 4, 2018

I'm going to pull out a couple of your statements and show them to you right next to each other. I'm also going to bold the parts of each that jumped out at me.

- Every summer, since grade school, I always feel an overwhelming sense of abandonment. Like everyone is going away on amazing vacations or leaving for the cottage, places they'd rather be, while I'm stuck in the same place as always. I do have a vacation coming up in June, but I don't like traveling alone, and I find travel stressful and expensive. I also instinctively feel there's something sickening about this need to "Escape" your life, and always thinking there's somewhere better to be than where you are.
- My city is FULL of festivals, like every weekend there are several. Why is this a bad thing you ask? Firstly they are all so crowded, hot, and sweaty, three conditions which I hate. Second, alll the streets are closed, so the rest of the city has traffic gridlocks. And third, drunk people are so loud, and I don't like loudness. The whole city just begins to feel like a giant, stinking, loud, hot meat market.

So on the one hand - you feel like it's a bad thing to want to "escape" and be someplace other than where you are; but on the other hand, you dislike where you are in summer and it sounds like you want to...escape.

Or maybe not. You also say that you dislike travel and it makes you uneasy. Which is honestly perfectly valid - I strongly believe that people just have different levels of security needs, and they don't really feel like they are able to explore if those security needs aren't met. There are some people who just don't feel comfortable in unfamiliar territory. And that's just fine! It sounds like you like your city itself, that is your "home turf" and that is where you are comfortable, and going outside that zone is distressing. There are TONNNNNNNS of people like that.

So you love your city, you love where you are. What you don't like is that you also get tons of tourists who come in and invade every summer, and tons of other people who live there act like them. What to do....

Here's the thing though. I bet if you pay attention to where the tourists are going....they're probably all congregating in some specific places. And the people who live there are also all congregating in similar spaces too. they're not taking over the city as a whole, they're probably all staying in some "hip and trendy" restaruants or bars, or staying put in some "must see" landmarks, and leaving the rest of the city alone. So...maybe those parts of the city are your in-town escape.

Case in point: I live in New York City. We also have a lot of local residents who try to "see and be seen" in the summer, and a lot of tourists who try the same thing. We also have a lot of summer concerts and festivals. We also have the same kind of "hot sweaty meat market" kind of thing going on. But.

* The tourists are mostly only going to a handful of places - Times Square, the Empire State building, Coney Island, Broadway, and a couple of the big museums.
* The "see and be seen" people are sticking mainly to the bars in a handful of neighborhoods - Long Island City, Williamsburg, the Meat Packing District.

If I avoid those places, that leaves the entire rest of the city for me. Those tourists flocking to the Metropolitan Museum of Art don't know anything about the Queens art museum, the Frick, the galleries in Chelsea, the Snug Harbor cultural Center on Staten Island....and the people who go to the "see and be seen" bars in those neighborhoods don't know anything about the cafes I discovered in Greenpoint, or the bar in my own neighborhood, or the clam shack in the Bronx, or....

You know? Your city is bigger than the popular places. Maybe you just need to find where some places where the tourists and hipsters aren't going to in your own city. Go visit the lesser-known corners. Even music festivals - lots of people are probably going to go see the big acts in the festivals here in Central Park or Prospect Park; but I bet very few people are going to be going to the bluegrass festival I'm going to that's tucked away into the park somewhere in Queens (I'm not telling anyone about that). I bet that there are some smaller concerts tucked away in smaller museums or smaller parks where you can drop by and listen to lovely music or see some free theater in a lovely park, and you're one of only about 20 people and it's nice and calm. Or maybe you will discover a waterside cafe with a terrace in a sleepy neighborhood in your city that people usually don't go to, and that means that the only people there in the afternoon are you and a couple of other locals who are busy reading their papers.

I guarantee you that there are some places like that where you live, where you can find peace and quiet. Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:52 AM on June 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

A couple of years ago, I could have written this myself -- same complaints re: the heat, feeling left out, preferring my winter clothes, hating crowds, etc.

Three things have massively improved my attitude towards summer, which I now actually kind of enjoy:

1) Air-conditioning. (Which you now have, so good job on that front!) If I'm hot, it is SO hard to sleep well, which really tanks my mood. A window unit did wonders!

2) For totally unrelated reasons, I started on an SSRI (Lexapro) for anxiety. Whether it addressed an undiagnosed case of summer SAD or simply improved my mood overall, I have enjoyed summer SO much more since starting this med.

3) I developed a very non-summery summer hobby, i.e. becoming obsessed with the WNBA (professional women's basketball in the US). Their season runs May to September, and now I get SO EXCITED when May comes around! I have season tickets, so I attend every home game in a windowless, air-conditioned arena. I watch the away games in the air-conditioned privacy of my home. I also have a couple of friends with season tickets, so suddenly I have a great summer social outlet that's not about enjoying the heat or going to festivals or whatever. Sometimes we'll grab dinner before the game, sometimes we'll get together to watch the away games on TV. I feel a lot less lonely in the summer now because I've got this cool thing to look forward to, and friends with whom to enjoy it. Maybe you could find something similar?
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 11:35 AM on June 4, 2018

I hate summer SO MUCH, but I got some great answers to the questions of staying cool in the heat and what to do about clothes when I posted it about it here a few years ago. I completely know how you feel, right down to the 'left-outedness', and the feeling self-conscious in summer outfits.

Personally, although I have adopted a lot of the strategies that other Mefites recommended in that question (e.g. staying hydrated, dressing for comfort and not worrying too much about how I look, coming up with a strategy to keep my house cool and airy), I have not yet made my peace yet with this horrible season. The (possibly only) good things about summer for me are that my bosses tend to go away on their annual long trips with their families, so work calms down a bit; and there tend to be some good outdoor theatre productions in my city, so I can go and enjoy those. If there are any other positive things about summer where you are that you can focus on, that might help.
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:33 AM on June 6, 2018

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