By BETH HAIL, LCSW
Summer break is in full swing — and some parents have already started the countdown to their child’s first day of school!
Without the routine and structure of going to school, summer break might not feel like a break at all and can present stressful moments for both parent and child. Recent studies have found that having a normal daily rhythm can help diffuse stress and depression. Routines can also contribute to multiple health benefits and improve an individual’s mood and cognitive functions.
Here are several ways parents and children can incorporate and maintain healthy routines to help reduce stress during the summer break:
Time off from school doesn’t mean time off from sleep. Keep a bedtime routine during summer to help maintain balance and reduce stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control, short sleep duration can be associated with greater likelihoods of frequent mental distress. The bedtime routine may vary depending on a person’s age, but everyone needs regular sleep which serves as the body’s reset button. A good night’s rest supports mental and emotional resilience.
Unplugging from technology and spending quality time with loved ones can help shrink stress and anxiety, and it can boost the mental and physical health of the entire family. Traditions and rituals like vacations can enrich relationships and provide opportunities for family members to talk with one another, discover new interests, explore places together and create new memories.
Playtime has powerful benefits for children and adults by providing life balance. Amidst the hectic schedules and daily demands of life, take time out to play and enjoy the freedom from time, rules and responsibilities. Children who see adults having fun, laughing and enjoying life can learn valuable lessons about their own lives. Many times, children communicate their thoughts and feelings through play more naturally than they do through verbal communication.
Routines let you know what to expect, but they should be flexible and adjusted when necessary. Some stress is normal for all of us, but when stress constantly interrupts a person’s daily life, professional help may be needed. Centerstone’s staff is trained to help anyone deal with stress in a healthy way and to incorporate successful routines tailored to an individual’s needs.
This summer, assess which routines should be incorporated to make the break an enjoyable one for you and your family.
Beth Hail is regional vice president for Centerstone, serving its central Tennessee region. She holds a master’s degree in social work administration and is a licensed clinical social worker. For more advice on health-related topics, visit centerstone.org.