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9 Ways to Build Resiliency this Summer

9 Ways to Build Resiliency this Summer

Summer is in full swing and many children, teens, and families enjoy leaving the structure of the school year behind them and leaping right into the fun and carefree days of Summer. For some, the change presents a challenge.

Structure Feels Safe

The wide-open space of Summer can be a fearful time for those who appreciate the structure, safety, and learning environments of school. It can be hard to imagine but some of our clients feel much safer at school than they do in their homes and/or their neighborhoods.
Often when there is not much time or money to plan activities during the Summer, all structure falls away and boredom, depression, and anxiety may set in. This can lead to fighting with friends and family and ultimately isolation. The Summer can quickly feel very long and dark for some children.

There are many ways to create structure, purpose, learning, connection, and fun to keep kids happy, safe, and perhaps more prepared for the new school year than you thought possible.

Bring Structure to Your Summer

Below are suggestions for some healthy family summer fun. It does not need to be expensive or over the top. An afternoon in the park or at the beach can do wonders for alleviating stress or anxiety.

There are both good and bad habits, choose to fill the calendar with positive activities for your child and your family. Mental health needs to be a family priority.

1 – Get Outside

  • Spend time outdoors every day. Even 15 minutes of sunshine will elevate your mood… Don’t forget the sunscreen

2 – Move Your Body

  • Keep active! Introduce regular exercise to the children in your life at an early age. It helps them to develop positive lifelong habits.
  • Exercise is a powerful coping strategy for depression, it naturally increases serotonin levels and boosts mental and physical health.
  • Run, ride a bike, play ball or frisbee, take a family yoga class. There are so many fun, physical activities that a family can enjoy together.

3 – Exercise Your Mind

  • Read
    • Go to the local library and see if there are any reading programs available.
    • Read books online – sites such as Good Reads and Amazon have free and low-cost books available.
    • Join or create a book club to share the experience with new and old friends.
    • Participate in a reading contest to see who can read the most books. Barnes and Noble sponsors a summer reading program. If your child reads a certain number of books, he or she gets a free book at the end of the summer.
  • Learn How to Do Something New
    • Is there something you or your child has always wanted to try? Cooking, knitting, swimming, the sky is the limit.
    • Many retailers offer free classes such as Home Depot and Michael’s Craft Store.
    • Look to schools and community colleges, they often have summer classes in a variety of subjects for adults and kids.
    • Learn a new language – there are apps for that.

4 – Eat Healthier

  • Processed food is full of chemicals that have an impact on both physical and mental health.
  • Visit local farms and farmers markets and sample fresh, healthy food that is abundant in the summer months.
  • Live in a city? No problem. Farms have started to sprout on rooftops, in empty lots, as edible gardens, in small yards, in community gardens, and vertical gardens in tiny spaces.
  • This can be a fun adventure, first, find the food and then learn how to prepare it in new, healthier, and delicious ways. Sourcing and cooking food is a life skill that everyone needs. Life skills build confidence and confidence builds resiliency.

5 – Staycation

  • Vacations may not be an option. But Staycations can be fun and basically free regardless of where you happen to live.
    • Consult local community websites, newspapers, or Facebook groups to find free local events or fairs.
    • Go to the beach with a picnic.
    • Spend a day exploring a large park.
    • Go to museums, zoos, botanical gardens on one of their “free days.”
    • Simply go to another neighborhood and learn about another culture. Visit a bakery or a food store – you can learn so much about a new culture through food.

6 – Create Art

  • Creativity is good for the mind and the soul. It also comes in many forms. You do not need to be a talented artist or musician to create something that makes you feel good and is appreciated by others.
    • Plant flowers, or grow a small garden. Digging in the dirt is restorative and growing something just feels good.
    • Paint your home, let the kids help pick colors and do the work.
    • Build something with your hands, a birdhouse or refinish a piece of furniture.
    • Learn to play an instrument – YouTube has countless free educational videos.
    • Write a short story.
    • Take a ceramics class.
    • Take pictures.
    • Tell stories.
    • Draw, doodle, or paint on scratch paper or other recycled materials.

7 – Face a Fear

If you or your child have a particular fear face it together. Fear is a legacy we can easily pass down to our children, break the pattern and replace it with a position experience. Perhaps it is a fear of heights, roller coasters, or dogs. Regardless of what the fear is, create a situation where you can face that fear and put it behind you or our child. As long as it is safe…

8 – Volunteer

  • There are so many opportunities to help others. Actually, the supply is endless. Volunteering builds a strong work ethic and focus and often provides opportunities to learn a new skill. It also adds structure by committing to a daily or weekly schedule.
    • Work with kids or the elderly.
    • Help at an animal shelter.
    • Ask if the local library needs help.
    • We can always use extra hands at WYS and we value every volunteer and intern that has helped over the years!

9 – Pursue Leadership Opportunities

  • The YMCA features programs targeted specifically toward teens that are educational and fun. If you are in Orange County, CA, check with your local Family Resource Center; some have Youth Advisory Councils that help to build leadership skills.
  • The Boys & Girls Club is a national organization, each location is unique and offers a variety of programs and services to help young people reach their full potential. In Orange County, CA there are 15 locations: Anaheim, Brea-Yorba Linda-Placentia, Buena Park, Central Orange Coast, Cypress, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Valley, Laguna Beach, La Habra, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Stanton, Tustin, and Westminster.

Happiness Builds Resiliency

Whatever challenges your family is facing, you can make time for joy. Happiness builds resiliency and resiliency heals adversity.

  • Whatever you choose to do make it fun and engaging.
  • Make a list of what makes you and your child happy and try new things so you can grow that list.
  • Planning a family activity? Ask your child to invite a friend, maybe your child will be invited to spend a day with a friend’s family too.
  • Make it a goal that every single day will have at least one hour of uninterrupted happiness.

What activities do you have planned this Summer? Please share on our Facebook page.

If You Need Help, Reach Out

WYS offers a wide variety of mental health services, including in schools. I am grateful that many of our services are provided to our clients in their homes and at various community locations around Orange County, CA year-round. This means that our clients receive no-cost, interrupted services when they are on summer break.

Summer can be a good-time to pursue counseling for your child, away from the drama that often comes with school. Visit our website to learn more about what we do and reach out if we can help you or someone you know.

Wishing you blue skies and sunshine!

Lorry Leigh Belhumeur, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Western Youth Services

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