When the sun is shining and the weather is warm, it may not seem like there is much to complain about. However, the summer can also be a difficult time to manage mental health issues for adults and children. Summer is often seen as a time of freedom and bliss, although the lack of structure during the summer months may result in feelings of anxiety or depression, especially for children. It is important to find ways to have fun during the summer while also incorporating a regular routine and schedule in order to avoid boredom which can often lead to worrying or over-thinking about the past or the future. If you’re having trouble finding structure over the summer for your kids or even yourself, try some of the following tips:
- Maintain a steady sleep routine: Try to go to bed and wake up around the same times everyday in order to avoid not getting enough sleep or oversleeping. Our minds and bodies function at a healthier rate when we maintain regular sleep patterns.
- Set a plan for the day: Plan and schedule daily activities and set time ranges for events, meals, chores and relaxation. If you have too much spare time on your hands, it could result in feelings of boredom and sadness.
- Get involved in your community: Check out local events (fairs, farmers markets, etc) or volunteer at a local organization (animal shelter, food pantry, etc). This is a great way to develop your interests and strengths, as well as improve overall feelings of happiness. Positive psychology teaches us that doing good deeds for other promotes a greater sense of happiness within yourself.
- Sign up for camps or sports: Research activities you or your children may be interested in such as arts and crafts, soccer, tennis or boys and girls scouts. This helps promote socialization and builds skill mastery, which can improve self-esteem and create a sense of belonging to a “team.”
- Find a fun new exercise routine: Go for a daily walk or try a new workout class such as yoga or cycling. Research shows that 30-45 minutes of exercise can increase endorphin activity and promote a positive mood.
- Increase socialization with friends and family: Schedule time for barbecues, picnics, movie and coffee dates. Having more time available in the summer may pose an opportunity for isolating tendencies, so be sure to stay connected with others.
- Plan fun outdoor adventures or trips: Try to visit local parks, swimming pools, or plan a trip to a nearby water-park or theme-park. Just 20 minutes of sunlight a day can significantly increase mood!
- Find a good new book to read: Spend some time unwinding with a great read. This is a good way to relax while also having something to focus attention on.
- Keep track of healthy eating habits: In addition to your summer ice cream cones, get your hands on some fruits and veggies. Everything in moderation!
By: Melissa Major, MHC