What to Do If Long Summer Weekends Make You Feel Super Lonely


Sunday scaries are a real thing, but anxiety hits me especially hard the week before Memorial Day. That’s because there’s a three-day holiday on the horizon, and like most big, social times, I have zero plans. So, I scroll through old text threads, seeing if there’s somebody I might hit up. More often than not, I don’t reach out. Perhaps I don’t want to appear desperate. If they really wanted to see me, they would have invited me by now, I somberly tell myself. Then, once the weekend arrives, that nervous pit in my tummy turns into heavy, whole-body sluggishness when I see endless posts of airport mimosas and family barbecues. As a single, 34-year-old woman, I never feel more alone in life than I do on a summer holiday weekend.

I often think I’m the only one who feels this way, but this experience is actually common, Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, a Chicago-based psychologist, tells SELF: “You see people at the beach and going to fun places with friends and family. You might think, ‘I’m a failure. No one cares about me.’” (Cut to me nervously gulping in this interview.)

If you know that Memorial Day—or the arrival of summer in general—makes you feel low, experts say that you can map out your weekend, and adjust your mindset, to feel a little bit better. Here are some ways to do that.

Pinpoint what energizes you and incorporate it into new holiday traditions.

Although it seems counterintuitive, the summer months can contribute to sadness, says Dr. Lombardo. “For some people, the heat is too much,” she explains. “If we felt lonely or bullied in summer as a child, some of those traumas can be stored in our subconscious.”

There’s also cultural pressure to do quintessential “summery” things, like grilling, hanging out by the pool, or drinking a cold beer, Gail Saltz, MD, a psychiatrist and clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill-Cornell Medical College, tells SELF. If I’m being 100% real with myself, I don’t like any of those activities. (This isn’t a country music video—I get hot, sweaty, and bored laying out and beer tastes rancid to me.)

Basically, Dr. Saltz says you should treat this weekend like any other, but prioritize stuff that actually makes you happier. “If you spend the entire holiday weekend at home, doing little things that make you feel nice, that would be a successful holiday weekend,” she says. “There’s not some rule that defines how you spend your time as good or bad, successful or unsuccessful.”

She suggests writing (or just jotting in your phone) the last time you felt truly energized while alone: Were you churning through the pages of a spicy book, getting lost in the artwork at a local museum, or screaming at your TV during a Real Housewives spat? If those things brighten your day, give yourself permission to enjoy them when you have time off, no matter how silly, small, or unproductive they might seem, Dr. Saltz stresses. Dr. Lombardo suggests turning some of those feel-good activities into new traditions. “You can tell yourself that, every holiday weekend, you’ll get a half-hour massage, for example—something to treat yourself that you can look forward to,” she suggests.



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