Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Summer break is here!
You did it.
Your child did it.
You all made it through another year of academics, and this is to be celebrated.
While summer break may be helpful with regards to freeing a child’s mind from academic pressure and demands, it can also be a time marked with an increase in social, emotional, and financial stressors Not to mention, the change in routines or lack thereof can be startling.
Kids who struggle with mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression, may find that symptoms increase during the summer, as they move away from what has finally become their “safe zone,” with structure and routine, into uncertainty.
Parents can also struggle as they balance work, an increase in expenses, and making sure kids are happy while at home.
Work and play this summer break
In hope of helping to decrease the stressors and symptoms exacerbated at the start of summer break, here are 5 strategies to help keep mental health a top priority during the summer season:
Use schedules to help create structure - As much as we (and our children) dislike schedules, or feel we need a break from routines, kids and parents thrive with routine. In particular, kids fighting mental illnesses may struggle when they don't know what to expect day-by-day. Consistency is key!
Give them something to look forward to - Kids fighting depression might experience an increase in symptoms because they don't have anything to look forward to as they wake up each day. Kids can benefit from trying new things and exploring new places. Allowing them to be a part of the planning process can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and provide a sense of empowerment.
Get into nature - This isn't always easy, depending on your geographical location, but again, both kids and parents experience great benefits from getting out of the house and engaging in physical activity. Getting out of the house will also help with limiting screen time — which many kids overindulge on during the summer months. Too much time in front of a screen can actually increase symptoms of anxiety and depression, so go ahead and trade some screen time for the sunshine instead!
Prioritize family time - Although summer break doesn't always mean that parents will have the luxury of taking a break too, you don't need a month off of work to have quality family time. Just doing the normal things together like meals, watching movies, etc. can help those young people who may not know what to do during the hours they would usually be at school.
Find your balance - Kids fighting anxiety may become overwhelmed with a schedule too full of activities. While it's great to find fun activities for kids to do, it's also important for kids to be able to relax, enjoy some downtime, and even learn how to deal with boredom. The key is learning to find the right balance for you and your family.