Summer is a bright and happy time for many. You may struggle with depression in the cold months, and find summer to be a good time. Even so, it is good to maintain healthy habits for your mind and body. Sometimes the heat can cause exhaustion and drain your energy as well. All seasons have their pros and cons, ups and downs. Focusing on your mental health in the summer is just as important as the rest of the year.
Tips for maintaining your mental health in the summer.Kids, in particular, may develop an interesting summer regression. As a parent, there are things you can do to make sure you keep them ready for school and still have a fun summer. Keeping a simple schedule is important for the summer mental health of the whole family.
Maybe the idea of having your kids home all the time makes you want to pull your hair out. You could be in the position of needing to manage childcare for the summer. It can be challenging to navigate the change of summer in your life.
Simple schedules for summer mental health.
It is easy to want to pack those long summer days to the gills, but you can quickly exhaust yourself and everyone else if you are not careful. Think about how you want to spend your summer and realize that you will need to say no sometimes.
A few questions to ask yourself include:
- Do I want to travel far or stay close to home?
- Do I prefer getting up early or staying up late, then sleeping in?
- What needs to happen for a calm home?
- How can you help kids avoid the summer regression?
- Are there summer skills that you want to learn such as swimming, camping, etc.?
- Do you have the supplies and money you need for family adventures?
Preparation is key to keeping anxiety, stress, and depression from ruining your summer’s fun and work. So much stress is the result of poor planning or ignorance. Taking the time to prepare and learn can help you avoid the stress and feel more in control when the unexpected happens. Planning will help preserve summer mental health for the whole family.
Finding ways to manage the daily household tasks without cutting into a fun vacation will keep you from being overwhelmed by the chaos. Make a schedule that works for you to avoid feeling stressed by the mess that happens whenever people are home more often. Summer is also a good time to teach children different life skills that they don’t always get in the classroom. You could make a small summer goal of having an older child learn to do laundry, mow the lawn, etc.
Summer is full of fun beverages, but make sure you are not just drinking fizzy, sweetened beverages. Slice a lemon into a pitcher of water rather than having lemonade. Focus on less sugary juices and popsicles for cooling off so you avoid the inevitable blood sugar crash afterward.
Of course, your mental health could be helped by delicious beverages too. Having that pitcher of iced coffee in the fridge could be the ideal treat to enjoy after working or playing out in the sun. Find a good balance of fun and hydration.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, thirst, irritability, heavy sweating, and increased body temperature.
It is also important to be aware of safety around water. Whether you choose pools, sprinklers, lakes, or the ocean, make sure that you and your kids are adequately prepared for the situation. Hypothermia is a possibility even on the hottest days if the water is very cold.
Skincare and first aid.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and in some ways is a gatekeeper of your health. Sunburns, bug bites, and other summer issues can definitely make the summer less enjoyable for everyone. Make sure to stock up on sunscreen, bug spray, hats, and sunglasses. Also keeping a well-supplied first aid kit can help you feel ready for all the scrapes that will happen. Here are some things to include:
- Antibiotic ointment for scrapes and cuts
- Antihistamine cream for itchy bug bites and allergic reactions
- Various sized bandages
- Aloe vera gel for sunburns
- Chewable acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain or headaches
- Sunscreen for face and body
- Vaseline for chapped lips and skin
There is a significant increase of injuries in the summer, as well as the possibility of heat-related issues. Learning some basic first aid could help you recognize problems early and prevent panic and stress when things seem to be going wrong.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include the following:
- heavy sweating
- increased body temperature
When someone starts showing signs of heat exhaustion, get them into the shade and encourage them to drink water. Rest and light food can help them relax and start feeling better.
With all the time spent in the water during summer, it is also helpful to know the signs of hypothermia. These include the following:
- excessive shivering
- slowed breathing
- slowed speech
If a person shows these signs, get them dry and warm as soon as possible. Change them into dry clothes and keep them out of cold water and wind.
Heatstroke and hypothermia are considered medical emergencies and should be treated as quickly as possible. Being prepared for injuries and emergencies can help you gain a feeling of control when accidents happen.
Summer sleep and rest.
With the sun rising early and setting late, it is easy to let sleep habits slip in the summertime. The excitement of visitors and not having to be anywhere early can make it easy to ignore the body’s need for sleep. But the change of light does not change the body’s need for rest. Plus, you are much more active in the summer, thus increasing your need for sleep. Growing kids need sleep too!There are ways to make sure that you are all getting enough sleep. Small children may still consistently nap, and if you are a parent that is a good option for you as well, particularly on the weekends. Adequate sleep can be difficult with extra hours of sunlight, so blackout curtains and sleep masks could be a good investment.
Sleep is not the only way for the body to rest. Plan relaxation times as well. A planned time of rest can look like time to read or journal. Sit on the porch with iced tea. Turn off your phone for a while. Don’t feel pressured to capture pictures of everything.
Letting go of the pressure to make the most of this season will go a long way to helping you truly enjoy the season of summer. You don’t need to make a summer bucket list, follow any hashtags on social media, or even do what any other family in your neighborhood is doing. Do not let your fear of missing out take over your summer mental health.
Studying for summer mental health.
Giving the brain a chance to rest is an excellent practice for the summer. Yet there can also be a chance to challenge your brain in ways different than the requirements of a school schedule. Joining a library reading challenge could be a way to keep on top of important skills while also having fun. Camping gives chance to learn about nature outside of the classroom.
Adults can use the summer to learn new recipes on the grill or perhaps something about gardening, or even a new Bible study. Summer can be seen as a chance to grow in multiple ways. As a parent, you can set an example of always learning for your kids.
Whatever way you choose to engage with the season of summer, lounging by the pool, trips to new places, or relaxing on your back porch, take a few moments each day to give thanks to God for making all the unique seasons. Gratitude practices are always good for your mental health.
Psalm 74:17 says, “It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.” If you apply these tips and still need help with managing summer mental health, you can make an appointment with a Christian counselor. Your counselor will guide you in finding out why you may feel blue or agitated in the summer months.
“Palm”, Courtesy of arty, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Shades”, Courtesy of Ethan Robertson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Jump”, Courtesy of Ian Wagg, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “View from the Tent”, Courtesy of Scott Goodwill, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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