top of page

Turning the End-of-Summer Bummer into Dog Days of Divine Delight


The end of summer can feel more like the shadow of darkness than the season of sunshine. Much more than a gray, rainy day, we can experience any one or combination of three cyclical circumstances that stir up a murky storm of emotions and turn our final foray of fun into an endgame of gloom.

1. Good Things Come to an End

Summer is often associated with fun, freedom, vacations, and play-time activities for all ages. Life feels full, alive, and ripe with possibility. August can be a tough transition month because of the perception that these good things are coming to end. September signifies the start of a school year, time to get busy and back to the serious work of life, even if our schedules no longer include school.

Add to the mix all of the unfulfilled expectations we had going in to summer – books left unread, plans that never came to pass, more time spent in the boardroom than on the paddle board. Transitions of any kind, including seasonal, cause anxiety and melancholy. We fear we are failing ourselves and somehow missing out. Feelings of sadness for the loss of our carefree self and for the waning days so quickly changing unsettle our otherwise positive outlook.

2. Too Much of a Good Thing

SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is mostly associated with the shorter, colder days of winter. However, 10% of people suffer some or all of the symptoms indicative of summertime depression:

  • Hypersomnia (or oversleeping), daytime fatigue, lethargy

  • Daytime fatigue

  • Overeating, craving carbohydrates, weight gain

  • Lack of interest in usual activities and decreased socialization

  • Decreased sexual interest

  • Hopelessness

  • Suicidal thoughts

Researchers with the National Alliance on Mental Illness suggest that too much sunlight leads to modulations in melatonin production. And, we may stay up later in the summer, throwing our sensitive circadian rhythms out of sync. While many soak up rays, the bright light and heat of summer can be oppressive for those who may be prone to summer-onset SAD.

3. Let’s Get Sirius about the Good Old Dog Days of Summer

Summertime sadness is not just in our own heads. Some of our mid-summer malaise may be the fall out of a collective conscious idea formed centuries ago. Ancient Greeks (12th–9th centuries BC) and Romans (8th century BC to 5th century AD) considered the Dog Star, Sirius, a “second sun”. For 40 days in July and August, the heliacal rising (meaning “relating to or near the sun”) of Sirius cosmically coincided with the onset of extreme heat and severe droughts just before the Nile River’s flood season.

At a mere 8.6 light years from Earth, Sirius A is the most observable star in the northern hemisphere and 25 times more radiant than the sun. However, the idea that Sirius could cause such a change is truly astronomical because Sirius is too distant to have any such effect on Earth. But the correlation between the appearances of Sirius with the stifling heat and catastrophic weather has continued in our collective consciousness since. With average temperatures rising around the globe (some areas are now reaching triple digit temperatures in May), we may feel the dog days more like a wolf pack.

Paying close attention to what is a true belief versus what may be idle chatter helps separate what is good for us from what is getting us down. With clearer thoughts and feelings, we are free to move forward with healthier opinions of and options for ourselves.

Dog is Our Copilot - Turning towards Joy

From a spiritual perspective, we can either sit and stay down with the summertime blues, or allow the dog days lead us to brighter days of joy and inspiration.

  • Talk it out. Loneliness and isolation are experienced by most with summer sadness. Sharing your feelings with loved ones, spiritual communities, and mental health professionals can provide critical support and connection.

  • Dance it out. Physical movement, whether it is dancing like no one is watching, running along a beach, or hitting an early fitness class for 30 minutes a day can alleviate stress and anxiety.

  • Keep expectations in check. Holding on to expectations of how the vacation or excursion ought to unfold or what our swimsuit bodies should look like is a sure set-up for disappointment.

  • Keep it in Mind. Use positive affirmations to keep your mind on the sunny side of life. Meditation and other mindfulness practices can help reframe sad ideas into divine designs for your next best steps. Paying close attention to what is a true belief versus what may be idle chatter helps separate what is good for you from what is getting you down. With clearer thoughts and feelings, you are free to move forward with healthier opinions of and options for yourself.

The sultry days of summer can send even the most ardent sun worshippers inside with the a/c. We can lament life as we think it ought to be, or, we can let this seasonal phenomenon serve as an invitation to turn within and contemplate the warmth, beauty, and bounty of life.

“When summer opens, I see how fast it matures, and fear it will be short; but after the heats of July and August, I am reconciled, like one who has had his swing, to the cool of autumn.“ - Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

© Nancy Noack and Mighty Oak Ministries International, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

References

Borchard, Theresa J., “6 Tips to Help Summer Depression”, Updated July 8.

Editors, “What and When are the Dog Days of Summer?”, Old Farmer’s Almanac, July 24, 2019.

National Centers for Environmental Information, National Climate Report, May 2019, NOAA.

Mayo Clinic Staff, “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)”

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Depression. Retrieved July 17, 2019.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on July 17, 2019

bottom of page