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Kady's blog

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  • Writer's pictureKady Potter

Natsubate: SAD in summer

Most of the time, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) gets associated with the winter months. Cold, dreary days with less sunlight have a direct impact on mood and energy. Seems obvious to me. It's freezing and dark most of the time.

I'm discovering that SAD can exist at other times of the year, too.

Natsubate - 夏バテ - is the Japanese word for 'summer fatigue'.

It shares many symptoms with SAD: lethargy, lack of interest in things, irritability, changes in appetite, not wanting to get up in the morning.

I've always maintained that I love summer. It's not my favourite season - that'd be autumn. I really enjoy scrunching through fallen autumn leaves in comfy boots. Summer is great, though. Sometimes I think I might be cold-blooded.

A proper British summer rarely gets that hot. My personal rule is: winter coat if it's under 10 degrees (Celsius) outside, trenchcoat for 10-20 degrees, and no coat if it gets over 20. So... most of the time, you'll see me in a trenchcoat...

While I've come to Japan on holiday when the weather's hot before, this is my first whole summer here. It's been regularly topping 30 degrees during the day (and at night) for the last few weeks, and there are several more weeks of this to go.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in the UK was just over 38 degrees back in 2003. This month, London's basking in temperatures around the low 20s and loving it. Here in Osaka, it's hit 37 degrees 3 times since the start of July. The coming week is forecast as mostly 34s, 35s and 36s.

Natsubate has hit me HARD. The combination of being more active, staying out at night more often, and managing both through the sweltering humidity has finally caught up with me.

I have zero energy. I've got a list of things I want to do that's a mile long. Things I wanted to do. Right now, the thought of leaving my apartment feels like the greatest effort I'll ever make in my life.

This is when I should be out making the most of my time here. Instead, I've struggled to wake up before 10am for the past week. Actually getting up and showering takes another hour or so. Getting dressed? Makeup? Well, maybe if I have somewhere to be in the evening.

If that doesn't seem too bad in the grand scheme of things, know that it's unlike me. Hell, since I got here in May I've sent friends and family daily updates on how life's going. For the last 3 days there's been much less to report. 'Slept all day' isn't exactly taking advantage of the opportunity.

When you start looking up the ideal temperature for the human body to function, many of the results are about what happens when you're too cold. Warmth increases productivity, sure. But only up to a certain level. There is definitely a point at which it becomes too damn hot to work.

Some studies have shown that productivity starts to suffer when the room temperature is above 25 degrees. I'm dealing with daily highs around 10 degrees more than that.

At first I was uncertain, but the last fortnight has convinced me that natsubate is affecting my writing. This blog post has taken me way longer to write than usual, for example. That's not like me!

I won't get a break from this until late September, when temperatures start dropping back into the mid-high 20s. By October, I'll hopefully be back to normal. Luckily the winter form of SAD has never affected me like this, or I'd stay home all year.

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