Coping with summertime stress

Published 8:44 pm Saturday, June 4, 2016

Kids are out of school. Weather is beautiful. Vacation plans are made. Why are you stressed out? Memorial Day is the beginning of “summer depression” for many people. Why is this so? Shouldn’t you be happier than ever and more relaxed? You are not alone. There are many reasons for the summertime blues but there is something you can do about it.

At work, everyone is talking about their vacation plans. All you can think about is how expensive it is to travel and take the family where they want to go for vacation. Many families go into debt for vacations just as they do at Christmas. It is not worth it to put a financial burden on your family. There are inexpensive ways to have a family vacation. You just have to investigate the places to go and things to do.


Some of the reasons for this are: 

1. Sumertime heat— ­­Workers who work outside experience unbearable, sweltering heat. Baking on a beach somewhere doesn’t sound like the perfect vacation. You would rather hide out in an air conditioned room watching movies on tv. The humidity saps your energy and you don’t want to do your regular walks, cook or anything else to be done outside.


2. Disrupted schedules — More expense is real for parents with children who out of school for the summer and need babysitting. It puts more stress on working parents to manage. The kids call Mom and Dad at work and you constantly worry more about the kids, especially if they are home alone. You constantly worry about how to keep them occupied. Routines go out the window. Baseball, t-ball, softball, swim lessons, etc. keep parents busy trying to get them to practices, lessons, attend their events. Your eating habits and sleep change from the routine nine months you have been on a schedule and it may seem that everyone has their own agendas.


3. Body image issues —You had all intentions of getting your body in shape for the swim suit season but it has crept up on you. As layers of clothing fall away, a lot of people become even more self conscious about their bodies. People are embarrassed in shorts or a bathing suit and feel awkward around pools and beaches. Some people will avoid social situations because of it. The real truth is that at the beach you see so many people that you will never see again and many who are in worse shape than you are. Who cares? Relax, wear that swim suit and have a good time!!You most likely will never see these people again and they are probably as sensitive as you are.


4. Financial worries —Summers can be very expensive. For working parents, you have to plan time off, arrange for baby sitters, fork over money for summer camps, new wardrobes, etc. while you try to work. Planning and taking the vacation should be fun but you are more concerned about how to pay for it. These expenses can add up to the feeling of summer depression.

How can you cope with all of this? Some ideas below to make summer a good experience for everyone.


Get on a schedule — Plan ahead and get some semblance of a summer schedule so you can stay sane. Communicate with the family the importance of everyone being flexible and respecting each other’s time.


Plan something fun—It doesn’t have to be expensive. Make it simple. Take some time for yourself and chill out. Plan something enjoyable every few weeks so you will have something to look forward to. An ounce of joy can make for a better day.


Think positive—You can avoid anxiety by retraining yourself to associate with positive people, avoiding negative nellies. Create new connections if necessary. Get involved in fun activities that can generate feelings of peace and happiness.


Sleep consistency—It is most important to get enough sleep, but not too much. With it getting dark later in the summer it is often hard to get to bed at a reasonable time. Go to bed at the same time every night. Wake up at the same time every morning. Get at least 7 – 8 hours sleep but not more than nine hours a night. Extra sleep can bring on headaches and trigger depression.


Exercise regularly—It is so easy to abandon exercise routines in the summer when your schedule is topsy turvy, but be disciplined with your exercise program. Avoid the most humid times of the day if you are exercising outside. Swimming is one of the best exercises and can be fun in the summer.


Be around people you enjoy—It is tempting to isolate yourself from others in the summer, but force yourself to be around people. Social interactions with positive people will assist in creating a better mood. If you don’t want to go outside, have people over inside or find a local spot where you can gather and visit in air conditioned comfort.


Concentrate on work improvement—This is a good time to show your value to the company. Often times there will be a shortage of people due to vacations so it is your opportunity to volunteer for extra duties. Show how you can pull your weight and cover for those co-workers who are out. Learn new skills and take on more without complaining. Remember there will be a time when you are out and someone will be having to cover for you.


You cannot control all the events in your life, at work or at home, but you can control your reaction to them. Planning, good communication, focusing on work, involving the family in summer activities can all work toward making your summertime a fun, relaxing time of the year instead of a stressful, depressing experience. Have a great summer!


Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing