Psyching the Zeitgeist:
Current Culture Through a Mental Health Lens


Smoky Summer Affecting Mental Health Around Pacific Northwest

We’ve had two summers now with significant smoky air from west coast wildfires. We northwesterners look forward to and treasure our short, perfect summers, so it’s disheartening to have to stay inside during our precious warm weather. There are health impacts as well as significant environmental degradations from these increasingly frequent and intense fires, but we’re affected also on a personal level, as our brief summer slams to a close.

Local shop owner/herbalist, Karyn Schwartz wisely observed about our smoky skies on her Instagram feed:

Remember that your physical well being and your emotional well being are not two separate things…. [I]f you have been agitated or anxious or just overwhelmed with feelings – you are not alone. This is part of the sickness we are all enveloped in. The smoke is exacerbating struggles we already have, and making it impossible to ignore a lot of things we all wish were not true. Part of our collective medicine is to be kind and gentle with ourselves and each other.

A recent story on the CBC website focused on these personal impacts on our mental health. For many people, they feel isolated and depressed, having to stay inside during the one time of the year when we normally can savor warm sunny days, dine al fresco, swim, and enjoy long, light-filled evenings. For others more drastically and directly affected by wildfire, they struggle with loss of home and livelihood.

These long-term significant disruptions to one’s place in the world can have profound effects on your mental health. If your feelings of despondency don’t fade when the air improves, it’s a good idea to seek out mental health assistance.

by Judy Koven