In the Summertime


If you live in an area where seasons change, you know that Summer brings warm weather, beautiful flowers, and many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.  For most people, school is on summer break, and there is less pressure on school-aged children. There are many opportunities for families to relax and engage in activities together, from vacations to faraway places to a simple picnic in the park.

Those in the work world know that many offices are not as busy and some places of employment offer summer hours and casual Fridays, both of which promote a more relaxed atmosphere.

As you enjoy the great outdoors, enjoy the effects of Vitamin D  on your physical and mental health.  Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which promotes bone growth.   Your brain needs vitamin D, too.   There is a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and depression; in fact, people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have symptoms of depression.  However, it’s really important to avoid too much sun.  UVA rays age skin and increase wrinkles.  Sunburns increase the likelihood of skin cancer, particularly blistering burns that occur between age 15 and 20.  Granted, sunscreens can be messy, and convincing children to sit still and be slathered can be challenging.  Here are some tips and tricks on how to buy the best sunscreen for your needs, as well as some alternatives for avoiding sun overload.  So, enjoy the sun, and be mindful of your and your family’s health at the same time. 

Perhaps due to the warmth, sun, and lessened pressure and expectations, in general, people who experience signs of depression and anxiety report experiencing less symptoms during summer months.  A study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine (May 2013) reports that in the summertime, there are less internet searches for terms like depression, bipolar, schizophrenia and suicide.

Still, some people are challenged by summer weather and the break from school, and if you are one of those people, you are not alone.  Some people may not like hot weather, yet feel pressure to participate in outdoor activities.  The heat and changes in routine may be enough to cause or worsen symptoms of depression or anxiety.   People who have scarring from self-injury, or those who have shame about how their bodies look may find summer clothes too revealing and difficult to wear.  In addition, children and young adults who are used to being on medications for ADHD often take a break from the meds over the summer.  All of these factors can lead to summertime challenges.  Being mindful of how hot weather and changes in routine affect you can help you take charge and ensure that you will enjoy the summer months.  Here are some general tips for “weathering” the summer and its challenges.

  • If you know you do better with routines, build a schedule into your summer months, and don’t forget to schedule time for relaxation
  • Similarly, children taking a break from ADHD meds may benefit from a structured schedule. Consider including reading time and chores in addition to fun activities and socializing.
  • Try as much as possible to get 7-8 hours’ sleep every night.
  • Accept invitations and entertain others within limits. Consider avoiding participating in activities that you really do not enjoy.  It’s OK if you don’t like going to the beach or pool!
  • Be judicious with screen time, and if you are a parent, model a healthy amount of screen time.
  • Make time to do things you truly enjoy, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

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