Lake Travis ISD Wellness Watch
Staying Mentally Healthy During the Summer
by: Jennifer Lyon, M.Ed.
Director of Health and SEL, Lake Travis ISD
School’s out for summer! For younger children, teens, and college students, summer means freedom from school responsibilities and typically evokes positive emotions. Adults often think of summer in terms of some relief from our usually packed schedule and more time to relax. And while this is true for some folks, summer can also be a stressful time for kids and parents. Heat, long days, and being off schedule can really affect our mood and disposition. Those prone to anxiety can be especially affected. Psychotherapist Ellen Yom says that "Summer can be especially anxiety-producing for those who have experienced panic attacks in the past." She added, "The felt physiological symptoms are very intense during a panic attack, so a lot of people with this history can experience higher levels of anxiety during the summer months when the same physiological symptoms (sweating, palpitations, shaking, shortness of breath, feeling faint) are triggered." According to the Lantern Project, "when your body becomes too hot, you may experience symptoms similar to those of an anxiety disorder. If you do not take care of yourself when the weather is hot, you may find your anxiety symptoms escalating."
Lack of schedule and routine can be hard for both kids and adults as well. Long days, late nights, and too much junk food can affect your physical and mental wellbeing. Staying on some kind of schedule at least for waking, sleeping, and eating helps with both parent and child irritability and crankiness. Being mindful of your expectations of yourself and others during the long, hot days of summer is also important. To keep boredom at bay, plan for some activities that are either mentally or physically stimulating to curb depression and keep yourselves and loved ones motivated, happy, and maintaining mental health.
Here are some suggestions to help maintain summer wellness:
Children: Schedule routine playdates with other kids, or enroll your kids in a summer camp or day care to maintain socialization with their peers. This is key to preventing isolating behaviors later in life.
Teens: Having a part-time job, developing a work ethic and having a sense of responsibility helps prevent boredom and gives teens much needed life skills.
College Students: Working on college courses, an internship, or part time job also staves off anxiety and depression that is common among this age group.
Adults: Take a page from your child’s playbook and PLAY! Use your vacation time to take a break from work responsibilities. Get outside for some vitamin D (most adults are deficient which can contribute to depression and anxiety), take a walk, spend time with friends and family. Ask for what you need from others.
Summer can be a wonderful time of year if we remember to keep our expectations in check, take time to relax, and prioritize our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Happy Summer y'all!
Be WATER-WISE this Summer!
Lead Nurse, Lake Travis ISD
Summer is almost here! As temperatures rise, lots of folks are looking for ways to cool down and relax. For many, that means jumping in the lake, heading to the beach, taking a dip in the pool, or floating down the river with family and friends. Sounds fun - I’m getting excited just thinking about all the water activities that await us during our hot Texas summer!
With all this fun on the horizon, the need for water safety measures is more important than ever. Here are a few timely tips to help keep you and your family safe while beating the heat.
TRAINED swimmers are safe swimmers! Did you know there is a marked reduction in the risk of drowning for children ages 1-4 who participated in formal swimming lessons? Many swim lesson providers offer lessons year-round, so getting a head start on lessons can help keep your swimmer safe in the summer. Not all swim instructors are created equal - do your research to find the RIGHT instructor for your child’s needs. (SwimWays)
WATCH your swimmers! Everybody should keep their eyes on the children in their care while around water, but having a dedicated Water Guardian is imperative. Assign at least one responsible adult whose only responsibility is to watch children who are in, near, or around water. For large groups, assign more than one person to this role. (Colin’s Hope) Make it official - take the “Pool Safety Pledge” (CPSC) and get CPR certified. (American Red Cross)
WEAR a life jacket! A properly fitting life jacket reduces the risk of drowning. Even if your child is a strong swimmer in the pool, a life jacket should still be worn in larger and natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, or oceans. You can learn more about proper flotation devices HERE (Texas Parks & Wildlife). Planning a local lake trip? You can use THIS GUIDE to find places with life jacket ‘loaner stations’ in Central Texas. (Colin’s Hope)
If your aquatic getaway is in your own backyard oasis, here are some things you can do to keep your family and others safe:
GOOD FENCES make good neighbors. All pools and hot tubs should have a fence at least four feet high surrounding them, with self-closing gates that also self-latch. This fence should also separate the pool from the home - don’t consider your house as part of the ‘pool fence’ - this puts little ones at risk as others go in and out the back door. Residential pools are the most common drowning sites for children ages 1-4. More info about safety barriers for residential pools can be found HERE.
KNOWLEDGE is power. Colin’s Hope offers a number of safety cards and signs that you can hang by your pool, keep in your beach bag, and share with friends. Quick, EASY-TO-READ information about water safety tips, as well as their own Water Guardian Pledge. They also have a multi-purpose dry-bag/buoy available. Hang signs at home and keep the SafeSwimmer Float with you when you hit the water this summer.
Please remember: This information is not here to scare you. Rather, our hope is that you feel empowered by the knowledge of how to keep your family and friends safe while having FUN this summer!
By: Marissa Albers, MPH, RD
Dietitian & Marketing Coordinator, LTISD Food and Nutrition Services
As the days get hotter and summer break approaches, we are putting a spotlight on hydration! Help keep our students safe and healthy this summer by knowing these hydration facts!
The Importance of Water
Water is truly the liquid of life - making up more than 60% of a child’s body weight and responsible for many bodily functions. In the body, water:
Delivers nutrients to cells to keep you nourished
Regulates body temperature through evaporative cooling (sweat)
Maintains blood volume, and impacts blood pressure
Is one of the most common compounds involved in metabolism (the chemical processes in the body that maintains life)
The Benefits of Hydration
Improves sleep quality
Boosts cognition & mood
Supports the immune system
Can help control appetite
The Dangers of Dehydration
Dehydration is a condition that occurs when more fluids are lost from the body than you are taking in. When this happens, the body does not have enough water to function properly, which can cause confusion, fainting, rapid heartbeat, shock, or can even be life-threatening.
Symptoms of Dehydration
15 Ways to Keep Your Kids Active this Summer
By: Coach Z (Danielle Zibilski)
Physical Education and Health Teacher, Serene Hills Elementary School
The end of the school year can cause a panic in parents. It doesn't matter if you're working full time or at home with the kids, the fears are the same: you don't want your children to spend their summer in front of the TV all day or texting as their only means of communication with the rest of the world.
Kids need to stay active and occupied during the summer months to make sure they get the most out of their summer before heading back to school. Make sure your child's summer is filled with physical activities. Children need 60 minutes of physical activity each day, including aerobic and muscle strengthening activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There is still time to sign your child up for local recreational or sports programs. Our LTISD community programs offer a wide variety of summer camps and many still have room. Churches, community centers and schools usually host events throughout the summer. Let your child choose what interests them. They may even try something new.
Water activities are a great way to stay cool and active in the summer heat. Even if you don't have access to a swimming pool or splash pad, you can improvise. With a water spigot and a hose, you can create your own splash pad at home! Your kids will stay cool and get lots of great exercise at the same time.
Try the following water activities:
Let your kids run through the lawn sprinkler. For extra fun, set up two sprinklers.
Set up a "slip and slide" in your yard. You can even make your own slip and slide with plastic sheeting that you buy at a hardware store or online.
Play limbo with the water hose. Turn on the hose and create a steady stream of water. Let the kids try to "limbo" under the water without getting wet. Lower the level of the water stream each time they pass through. To add variety, start the stream of water on the ground and let the kids jump over it. Raise the hose each time the kids jump over.
Toss water balloons. If you don't have an outdoor water spigot, make the balloons indoors and carry them outside. You can also soak sponge balls from a dollar store or regular sponges in a bucket of water. Let the kids enjoy getting wet.
Purchase new water guns and a baby pool. Have a family water gun battle. Use the baby pool for the refill station.
How to keep kids safe in the summer heat?
When playing outside during the summer, make sure to watch for heat stroke or dehydration in children. Take the following steps to keep kids safe:
Play outdoors before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. to avoid the peak intensity of the sun.
Wear light, loose-fitting clothes, a hat and sunglasses.
Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.
If forecasters report a heat index of 90 or above, limit your outdoor time.
Play in the shade if you can.
Encourage kids to drink enough water, especially before, during and after physical activity. Remember, sports drinks are often unnecessary – they contain extra sugar that most kids don't need.
When it gets too hot to be outside don’t be afraid to embrace “active technology.”
Incorporating technology is a way to engage kids in physical activity when you look for active video games where you use a handheld device with a sensor that incorporates movement into the game. Go Noodle features dance and movement activities for elementary school children. You can also find Zumba and yoga sites that cater to children. Cosmic Kids Yoga is a favorite channel of mine for younger children. Yoga with Adriene is a great one for middle aged kids. Search Just Dance and Just Dance kids on youtube for loads of fun videos and host your own family dance party.
Work with a neighborhood organization or nursing home to do service work together as a family. Community service is a great way to keep your child active while also learning valuable lessons in philanthropy and humility.
Encourage your teens to get a part-time summer job or volunteer at the library, rec center or church. They will learn time management and financial responsibility.
Do a home improvement project together. You and your kids can paint a bedroom wall, repurpose old furniture or plant a garden.
Take a cooking class together. And assign them a night or two a week to be in charge of the menu and cooking.
Tour the area museums.
Join a gym and begin to workout or take classes together.
Remember: The best thing you can do for your kids this summer is spend time with them. The bonding, activities and relaxation will be good for them, and for you!
SAVE THE DATE!
Friday, August 20th, from 6:00 - 8:30 pm
Join us for a FREE viewing of Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience.
The follow up film from the director of SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in the Digital Age, about helping young people thrive in our screen and stress-filled world, digs deeper into the topic of mental health.
A local expert panel discussion, moderated by former Mayor, Sandy Cox, will be held after the movie. Brought to you by Tune into Life.
Notice at the center of the WSCC model is a child. We believe every child should be safe, healthy, challenged, supported, and engaged. This is achieved through the supportive structures of family, school, and community surrounding the child.
This spring, Lake Travis ISD's School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) decided to create a quarterly newsletter to share information that will help families and the community support student health in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, social and emotional wellness, and health education. We will focus on these areas to support and encourage families to implement simple habits that are important for healthy development.