How to Make the Most of Your Summer: Mental Health Tips for Teens  


Most teens look forward to the summer break. Plans are excitedly made before school ends. However, many can get bored by the second week of summer break. Sadly, this boredom can make things take a turn for the worse.


Too many teens spend the bulk of their summer break staying indoors playing computer games, binge watching and streaming TV series, chatting late nights with friends, and staying in bed until noon. It’s time to unplug that Xbox, log off your social media accounts, and do other activities that do not include massive amounts of screen time. The world is a big place, and it extends beyond the four walls of your room. Make the most of your summer break with our tips. Do not waste away those sunny days being a couch potato or staring at your phone all day!


Benefits of Sunlight to Your Health


The many benefits that sunlight brings are enough reasons for you to go out. Exposure to sunlight is said to increase the serotonin released by your brain. Serotonin is a hormone associated with improving and boosting your mood. It can also help a person feel calmer and more focused on his or her tasks. Minimum sun exposure decreases the serotonin released by your brain. Major depression is associated with low levels of serotonin.


The benefits of sunlight go beyond mood boost and fighting off stress. Exposure to sunlight enables your body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a vital role in bone health. Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to bone-wasting diseases such as osteoporosis.


Exposure to sunlight also helps treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and jaundice.


How to Make the Most of your Summer Break


Here in Ottawa we get to enjoy longer daylight hours during summer (as opposed to all that dreary darkness in the winter!). Take advantage of this and take in all the serotonin and Vitamin D that you can. It’s time to get out and bask in the glorious sunshine that is generally good for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.


Get Active and Take Advantage of the Free Time That You Have


Luckily you don’t have to wake up super early to go to school during your summer break. Instead of staying in bed until noon (or worse, all day) try getting up a bit earlier through. Take a hike, go jog around the block, bike with your friends, or swim some laps. Though you might initially feel tired or groggy when forcing yourself to do this, you’ll thank yourself later! Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. The increased blood circulation to the brain that exercise brings can significantly improve your mood.


Additional benefits of exercise include improved sleep, improved endurance, stress relief, better stamina, increased energy, mental alertness, fitter physique, and improved cardiovascular fitness.


You can also join dance classes, martial arts classes, sports teams and/or many other physical activities. Not only will you be enjoying the benefits that these physical activities bring, but you also get to learn new skills.


Physical activities also provide you a distraction from worries and problems, and give you self-confidence and interaction with others.



Get Out and Explore


With all the free time that you have during the summer break, now is the perfect time to explore your town and the neighborhood. Visit the local library, Ottawa’s many museums or our beautiful parks and green spaces. Spend the afternoon with friends or families and get to know your local attractions. Some local institutions hold summer activities that you can also take part in.


If you are the more adventurous type, you can go hiking and camping with friends and family. Spread those blankets and relax by the beach, or put up those tents and sing by the campfire in nearby campsites and parks.


Start a Summer Project


Achieving a goal by the end of the summer break is an excellent way to get your body off the couch! Create a project that will keep you busy for the whole summer break. By having a goal to meet, you get a sense of accomplishment at the end of your summer break. Here are some possible projects that you can do and will keep you busy:


Start a small business. Now is the perfect time to nurture your entrepreneurial spirit. Start a simple business that you can do during your summer break: a babysitting service, a dog-sitting service, or you can set up a refreshment stand. Want more ideas? Chris Guillebeau wrote a great book called The $100 Startup that’s full of ideas about low-cost startups. Take advantage of the free time to earn some extra cash for yourself.


Give your room a makeover. How long this will last will depend on the size of your room, or how big the mess is. Make use of the extra time to sort through your clothes, books, stacks of magazines, and all the extra things under your bed. You can set aside the things that you no longer use and will never use. Donate them to charity groups, or set up a garage sale. Either way, at the end of the summer break, you will have a space that is truly nurturing and relaxing.


Create a garden. It’s time to flex that green thumb of yours. Start a vegetable garden or a flower garden. Once that garden bears its fruits, your parents will definitely thank you for it. When that flower garden finally shows off its blooms, your mom will surely love you more for it. Gardening offers terrific psychological benefits, on top of providing you with the means to start a healthier eating habit.


Join a Volunteer Group


Use the extra time that you have during the summer break to help the community that you belong to. Join volunteer groups for a fulfilling summer break. Volunteering develops a sense of gratitude for what you have, and a sense of empathy for the plight of the less fortunate.


Joining community service groups instills a sense of responsibility while boosting your self-esteem. It develops skills in interpersonal relationship and communication, leadership, and time management; all of which will significantly help you as an adult. It also opens your eyes to something new. Commit a few hours of your week to helping others who are in need. Not only will you feel good about helping others, but it will look good on your resume and university application.



Join a Summer Camp

Summer camps are fun and ideal ways to leave your mobile phones behind and get active under the summer sun. Summer camps are made up of daily activities throughout the day which promote exercise and social interaction. It is also a way for you to meet new friends outside of school. It will help you develop social and networking skills that can prepare you for college and for adulthood. It is also a way to discover new hobbies and interests that you can take on even after the summer break.



Go On a Family Outing


School schedule and activities can hinder you from going on outings as a family. The summer break is the perfect opportunity to go on family outings. Family time is essential not just for the mental and emotional well-being of teens, but that of adults as well.


Spending time together helps create strong bonds, love, and relationships among family members. It also provides the perfect opportunity to just talk with and listen to each other. It’s a good time for parents to know and understand what their teenage children are going through. The good and happy memories spent with family are embedded in the minds of the children that they will take with them to adulthood.


Learn a New Skill


Have you always wanted to learn to play a new instrument, a new martial arts, or new sports, but felt like you just did not have the time? Summer break is an ideal time to enroll in summer classes and arm yourself with new skills. Learn to play the piano, learn to swim, or learn self-defense. You can also enroll in baking and cooking classes, pottery classes, or painting classes. The possibilities are endless. At the end of the summer break, you have learned something new and have equipped yourself with a new skill. Who knows, you could also discover your passion.


A Healthy State of Mind is Important for Teens


The teenage years are a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. The physical and emotional changes that a teenager experiences during adolescence can throw him off his focus. Peer pressure, academic pressure, and sometimes, parental pressure can lead teens to suffer depression. In 2017, an estimated 3.2 million teenagers, from ages 12 to 17 years old, have experienced depression at least once. Sudden changes can trigger mental health problems. Some who cannot cope often end up experimenting with alcohol, drugs and other unhealthy and dangerous substances.


If you or your child is experiencing emotional issues, it is important to seek help. Some who suffer depression resort to self-harm if left unchecked and untreated. Capital Choice Counselling is here to help you through this challenging period. Our Ottawa counselors have vast experiences with individual, family, and couple therapy.


Let us help you achieve meaningful relationships with each other and move forward to a more promising and brighter future. Contact us today to find out how we can help.