Health Wise: Simple Tips for Summer Stress


We hope you’re enjoying the warm weather as Michigan blesses us with springtime. Of course, May means summer is right around the corner, and even warmer days are ahead. May also means the approaching end of the school year for many, an exciting time!

However, this can be a stressful time for those struggling with academics and grades, and for parents worrying about those same things and more. Do you find yourself in that position, worrying about helping your children finish out the year, or trying to plan how to keep them engaged in summer? Even positive changes are still changes, and kiddos and parents alike may find themselves a bit stressed this time of year. Teachers, this is likely a chaotic and bittersweet time for you as well!

We have some ideas to consider when trudging through end-of-year chaos and planning for the change to summer. Please note, these techniques can generalize to a variety of stressful things, even for those approaching other stressors unrelated to schooling.

Here are our favorite techniques for managing stressful times and getting things done:

  1. Validate - express and validate your own feelings of stress out loud, such as “I’m really stressing about all I have to do tomorrow and that makes sense because there is a lot on my plate.” Modeling to your kiddos that feelings are allowed and valid typically lands better than lecturing them. Reassure them that their feelings of stress, frustration, etc, are valid and Then if they start to express their feelings, be sure to make space to listen and validate. Look up feeling words together, and practice emotional vocabulary, giving emotions a place to exist. Not having to pretend to be okay can in itself take away a layer of stress.
  2. Practice coping skills together - after labeling feelings, explore coping strategies that might help. These can include journaling, art, meditation, movement etc.
  3. Spell it out - after cooling down from big feelings using the above strategies, get on track to get things done. Play around with planners, calendars, and to-do lists, to organize the end-of-year events, projects, and tests. Then, for summer, write out chore lists and goal lists, a hugely important step to having a structured summer. It’s also a great time of year to write out rules/expectations, to mitigate any behavioral concerns over summer. Note- If your kiddo already has a very structured summer, due to sports, camps, or summer school, try to keep these lists to a minimum to avoid overwhelming them any further. If you’re not sure what is too much, talk to your kid/s about it and listen to their feedback with an open mind.
  4. Emphasize rewards - For all of the above tasks, chores, and expectations, spend some time discussing appropriate and enticing rewards. Rewards can range from kind words and points earned toward things, to tangible monetary, experiential, or material rewards, Think about how you might give small rewards for small accomplishments, rather than only rewarding at the end of a huge achievement.
  5. Be mindful and teach mindfulness - mindfulness, defined as being present-moment awareness with intention and without judgment, is an excellent practice for nearly everyone in nearly every situation. Summer in Michigan is a great time to dive into mindful hobbies and experiences in nature!
  6. Explore mindful activities such as device-free hour/s, going out into nature, drawing, painting or learning an art technique, crafting, music, yoga/exercise, meditation, and just being still without needing to do something. Simple mindful practices can be used as breaks between getting things done, as well as prep before starting or wind down after. Check out some of these videos from our Still Waters staff for quick mindfulness practices, including mindfulness in nature and mindful breathing for focus.

We hope these techniques give you some guidance in a time of potential stress, and that you see ways to expand these techniques to a variety of situations. Please remember these are simply suggestions. Do not stress if you don’t use a single one this summer. These tips will be here when you have the time and are ready to use them.

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