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RISMEDIA, June 22, 2010—Summer invites relaxing times with fun opportunities for escapes, spending more time outdoors, and longer days with thoughts of enjoying time for the things we really want to do. In reality, it is often the busiest time of the year because people host parties, schedule weddings, family reunions, plan trips, guest visits – often while managing multiple demands from schedule changes (like children being out of school or more activities as a result of longer days with extended sunlight). It can also be stressful – with too many things to do and places to go (or not enough). Connie Merritt offers the following tips to help you take action now to reduce stress this summer.

1. Your Summer Starts with You
It’s your responsibility to plan and help reduce stress and manage how busy your schedule is this summer. By taking responsibility for your time this summer, you can find solutions to keep your schedule less busy.

2. Planning Ahead is Key
With prior planning, you’ll be better prepared. Get a calendar and make time now to connect with yourself and family members to capture thoughts in a list of what you and others want to do this summer. When planning, be sure to review interests, activities, assignments and commitments (workplace, home, family/friends and community). Be sure to set realistic goals for your summer. The pace is often slower and a good time to develop relationships – or take that much needed vacation or time off. If you have children at home for summer vacation, involve the whole family in the summer planning process. Ask for everyone’s input and suggestions. Discuss expectations with your kids in advance to avoid any misunderstandings. Decide together on some fun family activities and put them on the calendar.

3. Don’t Overschedule
Beware of over planning your days during the summer. Sometimes sleeping in, taking a walk around the block, planning a trip to a park, or watching a movie is more enjoyable than having a busy schedule. Keep an organized calendar that easily references all commitments and plans. On that same calendar, schedule in some ‘not-to-be scheduled time,’ and stick with it. Part of summer’s fun is to have cookouts, unstructured reading, etc., and block regular times out on the calendar that are dedicated to family and friends only. If you have children at home, remember it is okay to let your kids be bored occasionally (they will find something to do).

4. Let Go
To make the longer summer days truly yours, you must agree to let go by trimming your to-do list. While there are no easy answers to this questions, ask and review: What can be let go of?

5. Say No
‘No’ may be the most powerful word to use during the summer to relieve stress. Be sure to say it pleasantly and with a smile (at least in your heart and tone). By saying ‘no,’ you can save time for yourself and focus on what’s important to you.

“Woven into summer are dynamics that create busyness and add to our stress – often robbing us of what really matters most to us,” sys Merritt. “The gain from getting busyness and stress managed during the summer is the fact you will be healthier, your priorities will be clearer and you’ll have less stress and more energy. Bottom-line- you’ll have more fun and fulfillment and a happier summer time that is truly yours. So, take responsibility and schedule your planning time – make it fun and special (meet outside, serve fruit drinks, or summer fruits). Don’t over schedule, plan not-to-be scheduled, let go and say no and strike a balance between work and play activities to insure you are recharged, renewed and ready for fall. Take a deep breath and plan to relax.”

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