Rowers enjoy a sunset while floating on Lake Mendota
Manage transitions and unexpected stress

Summertime… is the livin’ easy?

For many of us, the end of the academic year may not seem that easy. Significant changes, whether temporary or permanent, can be positive yet stressful. Graduates may worry about leaving the place they’ve grown to love; staff members may enjoy a relaxed pace but feel restless with the change. Weddings, trips home and new jobs can also add stress.

Despite the prospect of uncertainty, May and the summer months can be a great time for enjoyment, for changes, for rejuvenating and refocusing.

Take a moment to update your to-do list with many of the wonderful opportunities this season presents.

To Do:

  • Spend time in nature. Exercise outdoors or just take leisurely walks, appreciating natural beauty.
  • Try a campus stroll. Walk up Observatory Drive, looking across Lake Mendota. Hike through the Arboretum or Picnic Point; enjoy a sunset on the Memorial Union Terrace.
  • Head out somewhere adventurous, such as the Appalachian Trail or the Rockies.
  • Have you considered taking up meditation -- but never thought you had the time? Try some Mindful Moving Meditation on a walk through nature.
  • Enjoy the water: swimming, sailing, fishing, or canoeing.
  • Take interesting vacations, whether nearby or to a faraway place you’ve never been.
  • Spend time reconnecting with family and friends -- or making new friends.
  • Take a summer class. Explore a new career direction, learn a new skill or just have fun.
  • Do some gardening, whether around your own yard or in a community garden.
  • Enjoy local fruits and vegetables. Take a walk around the Dane County Farmers' Market (or another one near you), or consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group to buy fresh produce directly from a farmer.
  • Make use of summer’s extended daylight, getting enough sunlight so you don’t need to take Vitamin D supplements.
  • Set aside 10 minutes a day just to feel appreciation.

One last item on the TO DO list

Be aware that even positive activities and changes can cause stress reactions. Even routine tasks can throw us off our game. Here are some unexpected sources of stress:

Lawn care

About 50% of us report stress related to lawn care. If you happen to be feeling annoyed because you're spending time cutting the grass, shift your attention to enjoying time in your personal nature spot.


Almost half of people in a recent poll said they were more exhausted after going on vacation than before it. No wonder; vacations can be fun, but they can also stress finances and family relationships. Be aware of vacation planning is creating stress. Lowering expectations or planning a “staycation” are ways to manage vacation stress.

Be careful not to over-program your summer, even if all of the activities are fun. Take notice if you're feeling irritable, fatigued, or fidgety. Are you noticing changes in your sleep or eating patterns, or your relationships? If so, add some time for relaxing and talking with friends.

Spread your wings this summer!

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