Summertime Blues

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We’re a couple weeks into the summer now and I’ve seen an increase in something that I see every year:  anxiety and/or depression about the change of routine, more commonly known as the summertime blues.  It’s funny, we normally think of the summer as a time of rest and relaxation, and for many it does bring that.  But there is also a number of folks who have a really hard time with the summer.  If you are like me you get down because you see the fun that the rest of your family is having being off and I would LOVE to be home with them.  I even feel a little guilty about having to leave the kids in the morning.  Others feel guilty about leaving their kids at day camps.  Kids can feel anxious about going to camps and the change in routine.  Other kids feel lethargic about staying home or not being around friends like they are at school and it can be hard to motivate these kids to do anything but play video games or watch TV.  Whatever the case, it stinks, and it can be hard to snap.  This post might be a couple weeks too late, but here are a few helpful tips to help head off the summertime blues:

1. Plan your schedule change:  It’s tempting in the summer to just want to relax and veg out.  Problem is that can lead to increased depression due to inactivity, and lack of motivation to change it.  Plan out your days before the summer starts or on the first couple days.  Plan what days you will go to the pool, have family time, play a board game, go to the library or other fun activities (plan in the not-fun ones too like grocery shopping etc.).  Just remember the summer weather and take advantage of the cooler mornings and evenings.  Try not to plan things like gardening in the middle of the afternoon, or they will never get done!

2. Set a bedtime:  It’s tempting for kids and adults to want to stay up later because the days go longer, and because wake up times can be later.  But it’s easy to just watch one more show, or play one more game and be crawling into bed at midnight or later!  Set a time to turn off electronics and head to the bedroom.  This can be later than during the school year, but it should still be early enough to get a good nights sleep.  Think 8:30 or 9 for kids, and 10 or 10:30 for teenagers.

3. Practice schedule changes:  If you or your child is really anxious about an upcoming change practice it ahead of time.  Does sleeping in a tent at a week long scout-camp create worry?  Set up a tent in the back yard and practice at home.  For a change in day camps go visit them the week before to meet camp counselors.

4. Create goals for yourself or your kids:  Just because school is out of session does not mean you have to stop being productive.  Create a reading list for yourself or your kids.  Write up a (reasonable) list of house projects.  Set a work-out goal, or pick a day to practice skills like foreign languages or musical instruments.

5. Find time to relax:  Once you’ve started trying to pack tips 1-4 into your schedule you might find you don’t have any time left to just be.  Make sure you schedule time to relax.  Schedule quiet times, nap times, or even zero days where you don’t do anything and just crash as a family.  Sometimes we get so busy trying to fight depression and anxiety we forget to just be!

Summer should be fun and relaxing not anxiety provoking and depressing.  Try out these tips and let me know how they work for you.  Now, I need to stop writing and get to my scheduled family time!

Just my $.02