Cruel summer? If being over the heat has turned into summer sads, try our guide to not just survive, but thrive.

By Mike Fleming

The excitement of Memorial Day, the thrill of Stonewall Month, and the giddiness over weekly pool parties and gargantuan charity events are gone. Netflix and pornhub are endless, but their entertainment value isn’t. You don’t care if you never see another daquiri, and it’s basically too damn hot to do anything but hole up near an air conditioner and pray for the sweet relief of fall.

Welcome to the Gay Dog Days of Summer. We all feel it a little, but it may be comforting for those who experience it too deeply to know that there’s actually a reason for those summer doldrums.

For some people, the body has a tough time adjusting to earlier sunrises and later sunsets. Instead of enjoying the extra daylight, you get the “sads.” Literally. SAD is an actual a thing – Seasonal Affective Disorder. It often affects people in winter, but the Summer Onset variety is just as dangerous.

Beyond that, maybe summer has just gone on too long, and it’s time for a change. Maybe you have vacation envy from your Facebook friends. Maybe your anxiety over tank-top-manboob syndrome has gone on long enough.

But who cares why we feel this way, right? We just want it to stop. Make the most out of the warmer months and be ahead of the game by fall. Here are some steps that actually work.

  1. Sleep in

Yes, really! You have permission. That blinding light through the window at the buttcrack of dawn may make sleeping sound impossible, but endless weeks of getting up with the sun could be taking its toll. Consider blackout curtains or a sleep mask to get those extra winks.

  1. Lower Your Expectations

Counterintuitive? Maybe, but building up summer in your mind can create a disconnect when compared with reality. Be ready for a pop-up storm on picnic day. Expect ungodly long lines at Six Flags. If you’re prepared for the worst, you can be pleasantly surprised when everything goes fine. Pre-set your attitude and ability to go with the flow.

  1. Build in Relaxation Time

Hustle. Bustle. You know the drill. Even the fashions are louder and busier during summer. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you overdo any time, but burnout is even more possible during summer. Map out your down time, whether at one of Atlanta’s many gay and gay-friendly massage therapy outlets, or at your neighborhood gay bar. Cheers to your health!

Consider taking some of those vacation days and disappear to a dark movie theater, attend a class or workout group, or just close the blinds and luxuriate in a bath. A recent study suggests people who use all their vacation and sick days are healthier.

  1. Work It Out.

Getting the blood pumping keeps your mind sharp so the sads (and the SAD) don’t eat you alive. One study found that simply walking 35 minutes a day, three times a week, can stave off mild to moderate depression.

  1. Facebook Reality Check

No, girl. Everyone on Facebook and Instagram does not have a better dog, boyfriend or summer celebration schedule better than you. Pick your head up off the keyboard and smell the coffee. Stop comparing the movie of your life to their highlight reel. And while you’re at it, see our What Not To Do on Facebook in this issue.

Of course, some people do have more resources than others to do vacay and parties in high style. If you really like what you see on someone else’s feed, figure out how to make a version of it happen on your budget and in your way.

  1. Love that Body.

Warm-weather fashions may send you running for cover, literally. Stressing about your body every time you get dressed can make for a long summer. Focus on being the best possible version of yourself. Fit or not, love your body as it is enough to pamper it, and to feel good in your clothes. Find summer fashions that flatter parts of you that you like and camouflage the ones you don’t.

  1. Live in the moment.

Time seems to fly during summer, and while New Year and spring feel like beginnings, the quick passage of summer can feel like a reminder that your years are fleeting. Take your best shots of summer and put them on your wall to celebrate – not what was, but the here and now in this summer that is awesome.

  1. Brighten up to lighten up.

It sounds like pop psychology, but surrounding yourself with light and color really helps you feel better. Wear bright colors, and your mood will follow. Get out into that sunshine, think about staying cool while using light therapy, or just sitting by a window. Even staying out of the heat, you can throw open the shades during the day. One study goes as far to say that sitting by a light box (Google it) for half an hour is as effective as an antidepressant.

  1. Eat smart and love the D.

This is your go-ahead to eat dark chocolate and drink coffee, in moderation. They elevate the mood and ease anxiety. But don’t be fooled; other candy, carbs and processed sugar ultimately increases despair after an initial euphoria.

Yes you should always eat well and take your vitamins. But did you know that your body gets most, if not all, of its Vitamin D3 from the sun? If you’re avoiding the heat like the plague, you could literally be starving for it. D3 helps with everything from digestion to the immune system, and 90 percent of Americans don’t get enough of it. Consider adding a D3 supplement if heading out is not in the cards for you.

  1. Crank the tunes.

They don’t add soundtracks to movies because it’s pretty; they do it to enhance the mood. Create a playlist that does the same for the movie of your life this summer. Hint: Not Adele. It may look like a movie and sound like song, but that shit is depressing.

  1. Make plans.

Looking toward the future can be one of the best spirit lifters there is. Find something to look forward to. Plan a vacation, a weekend, or just a night out on the town. And remember, autumn is coming. Just visualizing what you’ll do when it gets here can help.

  1. Take action.

Making plans and not seeing them through can be worse than having no plan at all. Don’t let it get you down. Busy yourself. Take a step toward a goal. Revisit a cast-aside resolution and try again.