This Summer, Explore the Upside of Down Time
Traditionally, summer was a time for kids and their parents to relax and enjoy some unstructured days – a chance to decompress, have fun and play. But thanks to the ubiquity of personal technology, as well as the increasing number of scheduled summer activities, the summer can feel an awful lot like the hectic, plugged-in school year for some families.
Aaron Krasner, MD, adolescent transitional living service chief at Silver Hill Hospital, says parents should try to embrace the idea of summer as a time to focus on the simple things and making memories together.
4 Benefits of Unplugging
1. You Live in the Moment
At the end of a great summer, you should have some great memories to look back on that you’ve made together as a family. And those memories don’t have to be about expensive vacations, they can be wonderful thoughts about playing catch, a picnic at the park or a laugh-filled family barbecue. Those opportunities happen when we step back from our phones and our laptops and embrace the down time. Stop living life through the lens of your phone and be present. Time passes quickly and kids grow up before you know it.
2. You Remember How to Be Alone
Dr. Krasner says the summer is also a good time for adults to spend some time alone, take a break from their 24/7 work stress and spends some time in their own thoughts. The idea of falling asleep in a hammock with a good book in your hand may seem old-fashioned, but it doesn’t have to be. Spending some mindful time alone on a beautiful summer day is good for everyone. Sometimes we forget how to be alone and at peace with ourselves and our thoughts.
3. You Will be More Productive
Dr. Krasner adds that, ultimately, parents and kids alike will be more productive in the fall when school and regular business hours start up again if they have had a relaxing and joyful summer to look back on. Research has shown we lose our ability to focus, we get more overwhelmed and can’t think as clearly when we’re constantly unplugged. In our fast-paced, work around-the-clock culture, we think multitasking is effective, but it’s actually not. You are much better off taking a break instead.
4. Put the Phone Down and Try Meditation
This summer, you might want to give meditation a try to help you relax. The word meditation probably brings to mind that classic image of someone sitting cross-legged with their hands on their knees and palms facing upwards. This is a common misconception. You can meditate anywhere; there is no need to be in a grassy field or on a mountain top and the point is actually to tune-in to your mind and body.
During meditation, you work towards staying focused on the present moment. The goal is to become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and your surroundings. It can be challenging to figure out how to begin a meditation practice, so guided meditation is a good way to start. Adults and kids alike can benefit from meditating.