Summer is generally thought of as a relaxing, enjoyable time. A time when life slows down a little so that we can unwind and reconnect with friends and loved ones. However, personal troubles, financial crises and family issues don’t take a vacation. They may even become more intense during the summer months, especially if you’re going through a rough patch while feeling that everyone else is enjoying the sunshine and living carefree.
If you’re a parent trying to manage children who are out of school, summer can create a lot of anxiety when trying to plan activities and prevent the kids from getting sucked into the “summer blues.” This includes working parents who are worried about children being home alone with too much screen time on their hands.
Planning vacations can be very stressful, especially when juggling travel arrangements and financial concerns. If you’re going out of town with a special needs child who has a disorder or disability, those concerns and accommodations also have to be taken into account. Of course, family reunions can add their own special set of issues when everyone gets together – right along with the heat and humidity.
From a professional perspective, many employees feel the need to put in overtime to make sure everything is caught up before leaving or right after getting back. Co-workers’ vacation plans can also become overwhelming if you need to take on additional work while they are gone.
Financial challenges often intensify during the summer. In addition to vacation plans, the cost for extended daycare and summer camps quickly add up. You can also break the bank just by trying to keep up with all of the invitations and special events happening around town. According to a survey conducted for the AICPA by Harris Poll, 59 percent of U.S. adults said their financial tension during the summer matches or exceeds the stress they feel during the year-end holiday season.
So how can you manage stress and bring down your anxiety level during the hectic summer? Here are some tips that may help:
- Make sure everyone sticks to a bedtime routine to reduce anxiety and depression, and awake feeling energized and productive. The wonders of a good night’s sleep can impact many areas of your life.
- Eat healthy meals and snacks by taking advantage of all the fresh fruits and vegetables available this time of year.
- Enjoy the nice weather and take a walk down the street or around the park. Being outdoors can help adjust anyone’s frame of mind. In addition, maintaining a light exercise regimen such as aerobics or yoga can also have a positive effect on how you feel overall.
- Breathe deeply by inhaling slowly through your nose to the count of three; then exhale through pursed lips counting to three again. Blowing bubbles is another way to reduce stress because of the deep breathing – plus it’s fun!
- If you’re unhappy about not being to take a leisurely vacation, short, local road-trips are the next best thing. And they can be much more budget-friendly to the frugal-minded.
- Speaking of budgets, set one for the summer that includes expenses for vacations and special events, and then stick to it. Just knowing what you have to work with can eliminate the stress and worry of wondering how you’re going manage the money.
- Find time for downtime as an individual or as a family. Walk down the beach and collect seashells, snap pictures of wildflowers while out walking, catch fireflies with the kids, or toast s’mores on the grill. These are the times that will be the most meaningful and leave you with the best memories.
If you are experiencing a difficult time working with stress-related issues, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional. Undue stress creates anxiety and/or depression, while intensifying other types of disorders, and should not be left untreated. The sooner you take preventive measures, the sooner you can start enjoying a better quality of life.