Managing Summertime Stress

Health Writer

Summertime is supposed to be a time of carefree living, fun and sunshine. But, often, this is not the case. Summers can be hectic. For parents, it is the time children may be at home, alone, even though they are still working. Worry about what children are doing can add stress. Days can be filled with extra activities, driving children around and family picnics. Vacations, meant to be relaxing, can be filled with stress and worry. The season may have changed, the stressors may have changed, but still your day is filled with worry and anxiety. So how can you control stress and manage anxiety symptoms during the summer?

The following ten tips may help:

Take advantage of the nice weather and take a walk each evening. This can be family time, enjoying the time together in the fresh air.

Keep plenty of the season's fruits and vegetables on hand. Summer is great for peaches, watermelon, berries, grapes, carrots, tomatoes, corn on the cob, and an immense array of colorful, healthy fruits and vegetables. Keeping your kitchen stocked with these types of foods will insure everyone gets plenty in their daily diet.

Despite the many activities, be diligent about waking each morning and going to bed at the same time. Your body's internal clock won't be so confused if you continue a normal daily schedule.

Understand your daily stress triggers or times of the day you feel more frazzled. Do you have a hard time when you first come home, trying to catch up with the children, cook dinner and unwind from your day at work. Or are you stressed trying to get everyone up and out the door in the morning. Prepare for times of high stress by setting limit and rules. Let your family know you need a few minutes to yourself when you get home to unwind, then will cook dinner, then listen to their stories about the day while you sit down to have dinner.

Breathe deeply. It is difficult, if not impossible, to feel stressed while you are engaging in deep breathing. Inhale slowly, through your nose, counting to three. Exhale through pursed lips, counting to three again. As you practice this, you will be able to do it automatically and feel your stress level decrease.

Spend five minutes a day with no "noise." Turn off your cell phone, the television and ask everyone to give you five minutes alone. Silence can help calm you down and help you to relax. Be sure you schedule this time into your daily routine rather than just waiting for an extra five minutes to appear.

Create your own affirmation to repeat when you are feeling stressed. Your affirmation could be "I will be okay" or "it will be okay." Whatever works for you. Each time you feel stress beginning to build, repeat your affirmation over and over.

Remember it is okay to say "no" to some invitations. Summer frequently comes with invitations to barbecues, picnics and other activities. If you are feeling overwhelmed because of your full schedule, you may be over booked. Pace yourself and don't feel guilty if you can't attend every function.

Set limits at work. Often, while co-workers are on vacation we take on their responsibilities as well. This can be overwhelming and lead to even more stress. Although it is important to show and demonstrate your commitment to be part of a team, you must also set limits to how much extra work you can take on.

Take a day trip to help provide you with a "mini-vacation" and let you relax. Sometimes it is good to get away, even if it is just for one day. If you can't afford even a day trip, take a day to stay home, turn off the phones and do something you enjoy.

Most of all, take time each day to enjoy yourself, spend time with family and pay attention to your own needs.