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Summer can present many opportunities for fun, but summer stress is also extremely common and can take a significant toll. The following strategies can be especially timely during the summer season.

* Keep Kids Occupied
If you don’t have your kids in some type of summer camp (or even if you do), you’ll need to have some enriching activities to keep them happy and stimulated so boredom doesn’t create misery for all of you. Allowing your older children to plan activities for younger kids (like ‘treasure hunts’ around the house, or games of hide-and-seek) can be a great way to keep everyone occupied in a constructive way. So can the old standbys: couch forts, board games, and educational outings. The following things can provide an extra 'grab bag' of ideas to keep everyone happy and sane.

* Pace Yourself
While summer offers many opportunities for fun activities, keep in mind that it’s okay to say no to some. Sometimes even fun activities can lead to stress if your schedule is overloaded, so carefully choose among the barbeques, beach days, soirees and other activities and just do what you think you’ll truly enjoy, remembering to also schedule in some down time.

* Set Boundaries
While you’re already setting boundaries on your social schedule, you may need to remember to set boundaries at work as well. Don’t let the siren song of summer steal your focus from your job duties—stay as productive as possible—but be careful not to take on too many of your vacationing co-workers’ responsibilities either. Teamwork is a good thing; just don’t take on an overwhelming amount of extra work if you have a choice. (This article on how to say no can help.)

* Try A Staycation or Playcation
Yes, staycations, and even playcations, have become the new vacations of choice for those who can't spare the time or the money for a traditional vacation. In some cases, these can even be better for your stress levels. (Ever hear of someone coming back from their too-busy vacation feeling like they need a vacation from their vacation? Or of a 'working vacation' that just turned into an exercise in 'working from a less convenient location'?) The key is to make relaxation or playtime the primary focus--even if for only a day or two--and get the benefit of vacations without all the expense! (And, if you do take an actual trip, remember to leave work at home and keep things simple.)

* Take a Mini-Vacation
If you don’t have the time, money or ability to take a full-blown vacation, you can achieve many of the same benefits by taking a mini-vacation at home. The main idea is to stop the hectic flow of activities, escape the mundane madness of daily life, or turn off the phone for a few hours. See this article for specific suggestions for mini-vacations when the real deal isn’t an option.

* Take Advantage of Summer Stress Relievers
Summer provides extra daylight hours for morning exercise, relaxing evening activities and fun in the garden. If you have kids around, you can also try some of these stress relievers you can do with your kids, or if you don’t have children, you can still enjoy these stress relievers for your inner child.


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