Teens and Summer Break: Embracing Summer by Navigating Emotions and Cultivating Well-being
As an educator, I recently came across a quote that resonated with me and brought to mind the essence of summer: "The moments between your milestones are not filler" - Nelou Keramati.
For both teachers and students, summer represents a transitional period, where one school year concludes while the next one looms on the horizon. Although we anticipate the break from school routines and the freedom to pursue activities we enjoy, the abundance of unstructured time can also be emotionally challenging. While we often associate summer with fun, reduced stress, and exciting prospects, it's important to acknowledge that many individuals, regardless of age, experience seasonal depression during these months. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, weight loss, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. For students, the structured nature of the school year provides a sense of purpose and social connection, making the shift to summer more unsettling. Moreover, the ample unoccupied time during summer can contribute to isolation, negative thoughts, and unhealthy behaviors.
At I Am Aria Inc., we strive to empower youth by encouraging them to channel their emotions through creative or physical outlets, enabling them to combat depression and anxiety effectively.
Teens and summer break. Things to consider:
1. Engaging in physical activity can significantly enhance your energy levels, reduce stress, and uplift your mood. It doesn't have to be rigorous exercise; even a simple walk or bike ride in your neighborhood can work wonders. Feeling the warmth of the sun on your face and experiencing a sense of connectedness with others passing by can elevate your overall well-being. Taking the initiative to step out of your house and explore the world, even if you later return to the comfort of your couch and Netflix, can create a positive shift in your mindset.
2. Being mindful of the media you consume is vital to your emotional well-being. Whether it's your choice of television shows or social media content, what you watch can significantly impact your emotional state. The term "doom scrolling" has emerged recently, referring to the habit of mindlessly scrolling through negative news or social media feeds. This behavior often leads to self-comparison, questioning our own worth, and falling into the trap of self-judgment. It's important to remember that what we see on social media is often a highlight reel of others' lives, not an accurate representation of their full reality. The same applies to TikTok sensations and celebrities. Comparing ourselves to others only fuels a downward spiral. During the less structured summer period, it can be tempting to rely on various forms of media to pass the time. I encourage you to challenge yourself to be aware of when media consumption becomes excessive and starts generating negative thoughts. Take a step back and disengage from it, redirecting your focus towards more positive and fulfilling activities.
3. Journaling is a powerful habit that can transform the trajectory of your thoughts. Although it may seem counterintuitive, writing about negative feelings has been proven to improve mood, enhance coping skills, and provide a safe space to process stressful events. As summer begins, invest in a journal and colored pens. Not only can colors stimulate your mind, but they can also help you identify and articulate your emotions effectively. Here's a color code we use in our program to get you started:
- Red: When you're feeling comfort
- Blue: When you're feeling calm
- Black: When you’re feeling sad
- Orange: When you’re feeling happy
- Yellow: When you’re feeling friendly
- Green: When you’re feeling creative
- Brown: When you’re feeling Isolated
- Light Green: When you’re feeling jealous
- Purple: When you’re feeling fear
- Pink: When you’re feeling anger
It's important to recognize that summer, despite its idealized image, can present unique challenges for those struggling with depression and anxiety. Remember, you are not alone in this journey.