Young girl laying on the grass

5 tips for maintaining good mental health during the summer

Published on
12 August 2021

Some of the young people we work with in Liverpool offer their top 5 tips for maintaining good mental health over the summer holidays.

Research from the University of Cardiff, for example, found that 1 in 6 young people had feelings of loneliness during the summer holiday, and another 1 in 6 said that they “never” or “rarely” spend time with friends throughout the summer months. 

All around them they see images – splashed across social media and on their television - of sunshine, family holidays, friends hanging out, being carefree and having fun. But for the young people whose summer break does not look like this, these images only highlight the difference between themselves and their peers. 

Schools are often seen as focusing on academics, but in reality they do much more – giving children a chance to spend time with friends whilst also providing a safety net which can be lacking during the school breaks. In the holidays, young people can lose the sense of structure and purpose associated with the school day.  

As a parent (potentially also facing stress and anxiety), you might be feeling a little unsure about how to protect your child’s wellbeing over the next few weeks, while preparing them for the new school year. 

To gain some insight into how children are dealing with mental health challenges, we’ve spoken to young carers at one of our services in Liverpool, and they’ve provided some handy (and super simple) tips for keeping spirits high.  

Their top five tips for maintaining good mental health during the summer are below: for young people, by young people.  

1. Connect with friends or family 

The NHS recommends connecting with people is good for mental health, and our young people from Liverpool do too.  

If you can’t meet up in person, make the most of technology by using video calling to reach people. This is what Rihanna (12) did over lockdown to keep in touch with her brother.

“We have a laugh and a giggle on Zoom” 

Rihanna (12)

Young carer from Liverpool

If your kids can’t see their friends or family during the summer, the six weeks will feel like a lifetime. It’s important that they stay connected with the people they love, and summer time is a great opportunity to do that.  

2. Stay active  

Karate, dance, circuit training, Mixed Martial Arts. You name it, they do it. It’s because staying active is fantastic for maintaining good mental health. It gets your endorphins going, boosts your mood and raises self-esteem.  

Research by The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK confirmed that “physical activity can increase self-esteem and reduce depression and anxiety in children”. 

"Dance is something that you can do on your own or with a class. I do it in my garden and make up my own routines for Barnardo’s films. You can make it as easy or as difficult as you want, and it keeps you healthy”  

Alix (12)

Young carer from Liverpool

Ps. Try to aim for at least 20-30 minutes a day!  

3. Get outside 

Getting outside is scientifically proven to boost your mood.  

Kadra Abdinasir, of the Centre for Mental Health, told the BBC that “spending time outdoors and in nature has many benefits and can help boost our overall wellbeing and mental health. Whether it’s a stroll in your local park, hiking or even birdwatching, being in nature can help improve our mood and help us feel more relaxed.” 

Mind also recommends it to help with mental health problems like anxiety and depression.  

So, while it could be very easy for your children to be glued to the sofa with no school to go to, the young carers in Liverpool recommend getting outside and spending time in the sunshine and fresh air. To them, it’s an easy and effective element of self-care.  

Susan (16) has been spending a lot of time outdoors, in the company of her canine friends! She’s got three of them and they mean she’s always on the move and out the door. A win-win.  

 "I like to walk with my dog Kaito, because I'm always on my phone or watching telly and it’s nice to get a break; walking with the dog helps with my mental health because it gets me out in the world" 

Susan (16)

Young carer from Liverpool

4. Art

Getting arty is super for young minds.  

It allows them to explore their creativity, helps them to relax, and is a perfect alternative to their screens. When immersed in an arty task, young people (and anyone, really) can reach a calm, meditative place, where they are distracted away from the worries of life.  

Oscar (12) is a massive advocate for getting arty, and recommends you do too! 

“I really enjoy doing art” 

Oscar (12)

Young carer from Liverpool

Research by the BBC and UCL confirmed what Oscar already knew: that creativity helps to avoid stress, offers calm moments to reassess problems, and builds self-esteem and confidence.  

5. Get Cooking

Science and research tells us that young people with good cooking skills report a greater sense of mental well-being, as well as less symptoms of depression.  

According to Julie Ohana, creator of CulinaryArtTherapy, “When the task allows you to create something to nourish yourself and your loved ones, it can be a very powerful experience”. 

This is makes it an excellent activity for children to try during the summer months. And if they’re not very confident in the kitchen, or if they find the process stressful, they could start with simple, easy recipes, or helping an adult as they cook.  

Fatima (17), another young person from our Liverpool service, is a massive fan of getting busy in the kitchen.  

"I like to cook for my family. We cook for celebrations and it's good to learn traditional recipes from my mum and her friend. It's something that you can do together and it’s good fun" 

Fatima (17)

Young carer from Liverpool

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