• Grace Gidley

Summer Perspectives on Living Well

In an effort to catch-up on things unread, I came across "The Epidemic of Anxiety Among Today's Students" in the NEA by Mary Ellen Flannery and it spoke to the on-going concerns I have about ultra-competitive, highly pressured environments many of our children deal with everyday. Though not a fix or cure for anxiety, summer months offer an excellent opportunity to take stock of our own examples as adults for taking care of our selves, each other, and the world around us.

Summer invites us to put down our phones, close our laptops, grab a good book, and hit the beach or the porch or in front of an old box fan with a Popsicle and no agenda. Dig in the dirt, watch birds, watch waves, picnic, and play. Even embracing boredom has been shown to increase our access to our own creativity! Many students and parents use summer for extra learning and achievement opportunities, and this is not an argument against excellence or achievement. However, while we know work and achievement are important parts of our identity, rest, play, and nature are as essential for maintaining a healthy balance and preventing anxiety. In many cases, we also know that intrinsic motivation outperforms extrinsic in the long run. So, play as prevention sounds pretty good to me. Tonight, we will ignore work undone, and instead run through the sprinklers, let the watermelon juice drip down our happy faces, play some summer music, and know that these fleeting summer moments of family togetherness will mean more than higher test scores this fall.

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