Most look forward to summer as a time to destress, with lazy days at the beach or pool, backyard barbeques and time spent with friends and family. But summertime, with all its perks, can also be stressful.
According to a survey by SleepRate, one-third of Americans found summertime to be more stressful than any other time of the year, mostly because summertime means less sleep. One of the biggest reasons for lack of sleep was because of social obligations. Survey participants indicated that during the summer months, there were often at least three social events per week, leaving them feeling tired and stressed. Other reasons for higher levels of stress included planning for vacations and adjusting to new schedules and routines when their children were off school.
While we see ourselves relaxing during the summer months, the survey shows that for many people, relaxation is elusive. Having a busy social schedule and cutting back on sleep often leads to increased levels of stress. What are you supposed to do?
Dr. Jaime Kulaga, a certified professional life coach, Wendy's spokesperson and author of Superwoman’s Guide to Super Fulfillment, offered some tips for decreasing stress during the summer months.
Keep priorities straight
According to Dr. Kulaga many people, especially women, take on extra to-do’s during the summer months. Children’s schedules and activities might mean more driving to and from activities and include extra time watching baseball games or swim meets. You might even find yourself taking on extra responsibilities by becoming the go-to person when other parents are feeling over used. Learning to say “no” to tasks that will add more stress to your life is important. Structure your day and then stick to your schedule. Don’t let other people lead you away from what you want to accomplish.
The summer months are a great time to keep active and take advantage of spending time outdoors, says Kulaga. She points out that research shows being active is great for your mind, body and spirit.
Take care of your body
Although you might find you sleep less during the summer months, taking care of your body in other ways -- eating right and staying hydrated -- can help. Kulaga suggests eating fresh fruits and vegetables and making sure to drink enough water. She warns that you should consistently hydrate yourself -- don’t wait until you are thirsty.
Stay present in the moment
Stress and anxiety build when you worry about what previously happened or what might occur in the future. Instead, focus on enjoying whatever you are doing right this moment.
Focus on you and your family
Whether you are going away on vacation or taking a staycation, Kulaga suggests turning off your electronic devices and disconnecting from social media so you can focus on spending quality time with your family. When you are constantly “connected” you tend to worry about what everyone else is doing or what they think about what you are doing. When you disconnect you can pay attention to what is happening right this moment.
Take time to do activities you enjoy
If you find you are spending your free time taking care of other people’s needs, back away for a little while and plan something you enjoy. Summer months are for having fun.
More about managing anxiety in the summer:
Seasonal Affective Disorder Can Happen in the Summer
_Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey. _