Loneliness is in the air during summer. College students are home, working their summer job, and deprived of their late-night Cookout runs with friends. They are no longer neighbors with their BFF and do not have the constant social community around them. Summertime can bring newfound sadness and stress to the young adult’s life. Home can feel somewhat familiar and somewhat foreign. With a little bit of effort and exploration, you and your young adult will find that there are endless options available to avoid summertime sadness and loneliness.
What Causes Summer Loneliness?
When we are children, summer is the time of year that we all look forward to all year long. Summer meant warmer weather and pool parties. Vacation from school and trips with family. And while summer still brings warmer weather and a break from college, it also brings some new challenges for young adults.
Returning home after spending the year away at school can feel strange or even uncomfortable. Friends they spent time with during high school may have moved away or changed after a typical formative time at college. These shifting social dynamics may leave young people wondering how to reconnect or make new friends at home. Returning home can also chafe a bit for young adults who have experienced more independence while attending college. They have become accustomed to setting their own schedules and making their own choices. But now that they are back home, they have to readjust to family rules and expectations. This discomfort may cause young adults to feel even more isolated. Not only do they feel disconnected from former friends, but they may also feel that they no longer fit into their family dynamics.
Lonely Loves Company
Feelings of loneliness are normal. They creep up on everyone at some point in their lives. It’s what we do about these feelings that can determine our day or days. Constant work towards building your emotional muscle to combat loneliness is an important step in defeating these feelings. Loneliness won’t go away unless you do something about it. It loves young adults and sometimes finding their way out of the darkness is easier said than done. If you see your young adult struggling, talk to them about what they are experiencing. Sometimes they may not have the exact words to communicate that they are feeling lonely, but you have noticed that they seem lethargic or irritable. Instead of reaching out, you may find that they are withdrawing or pushing others away. Some warning signs that your young adult is experiencing more severe loneliness are:
- Substance use
- Erratic sleep patterns: oversleeping or insomnia
- Exhaustion and burnout when trying to engage socially
- Negative feelings of self-doubt and self-worth
- An overwhelming feeling of isolation regardless of where they are and who’s around
Ongoing loneliness can afflict even the most seemingly outgoing person. Being the “life of the party” doesn’t necessarily exclude someone from being chronically lonely. This type of chronic, or long-term loneliness, can eventually impact all areas of their life. Talk to your child this summer and help them make the most of their summertime experience.
Beat the heat and find happiness
Young adults who are feeling lonely during the summer need to remember that there are ways that they can proactively seek out connections and friends once they’ve returned home. Here are some great ways that your young adult can pursue a fulfilling and joyful summer experience:
- Take time to look into the array of extracurricular activities that might be meaningful and rewarding both in the community and at home this summer. Summer is the perfect time to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. Encourage your young adult to volunteer at the place they are passionate about. Motivate them to sign up for the yoga class they’ve always wanted to take. If they get involved in activities without being accompanied by people they know, this can be a good thing. They will be forced to meet new people they may not have met otherwise.
- Summer is the time to seek passions. All of us enjoy where we are much more when we have a sense of purpose and meaning in our days. Help your child to look into cool stuff like new hiking trails, parks, and other green spaces, the beach if there is one, an art museum, or seek out local concerts and performances, or even a day trip. Help them build things to look forward to in their schedule. This will make them feel more productive and bring them a satisfying feeling.
- Unplug for a while each day. The immediate gratification from a cell phone hinders one’s ability to find important answers from within. Your young adult needs to experience the world around them. It’s easy to wallow in self-pity after scrolling through pictures of friend’s carb-loading in Italy or snorkeling in the Caribbean. This can easily make us feel like our life is bland and unexciting. Your young adult needs to intentionally unplug from their phone at least an hour per day. It’s good for them.
- Consider a summer job. Summer is a great time to relax and recharge after a busy school year, but some young adults may find that all that free time quickly becomes boring. Finding a summer job, or even volunteering, gives some structure and purpose to their day. Instead of spending the long summer days at home scrolling through their social media feeds, they will be out interacting with peers and the larger community as a whole. By finding a job or volunteering opportunity that excites them, they will also be spending time with people who share their interests and passions.
- Practice self-care. When they are feeling lonely, remind your young adult that it is important for them to take care of themselves. Self-care is always a good idea, but especially when they are feeling down. Eating nutritious food, exercising, and getting enough sleep will only make them feel better in the long run. As an added benefit, attending an fitness class or joining a running club is a great opportunity for exercise and social interaction.
Finding Community Through Residential Treatment
Summertime can be particularly challenging for young women who have recently completed an intensive treatment program. These young women have done the hard work and developed new skills during treatment, but returning home during the summer can be especially intimidating. They may feel nervous about seeing old friends who have been away at college or they may miss old friends who have left to go onto their next stage of life. These young women may feel left behind by their peers and feel uncomfortable jumping back into their home environment. For young women who do not yet feel ready to return home, a transitional residential program can help.
Journey Home East is a transitional program for young women specifically designed to help those who need ongoing support after successfully completing an intensive treatment program such as a residential treatment center. We offer this inviting home setting for any young adult who needs a “soft landing” from a residential treatment center or other types of treatment programs for young adults. Our goal is to help our residents grow into mature, responsible, accountable, and successful young adults who can apply the lessons and principles that they have learned in practical, everyday life.
One of the Five Core Principles we teach at Journey Home East is Social Integration. This includes learning about positive recreational activities, community service, dating, healthy socialization and group activities. By creating new friendships in the program and continuing to practice the skills they have learned during treatment, young women can feel more confident in using those skills when they return back home.
Journey Home East can help
Journey Home East is a transitional living program designed to help young women transition from long-term treatment back to the real world. The program welcomes young women ranging from 16 to 21 years old. Journey Home East helps students schedule for school, classes, work, and internships. Health coaching (diet and exercise, meal prep, cooking), life skills, relationship building, dating safety and personal safety are also a part of the curriculum at this program.
Journey Home East provides key supportive interventions in a home-like setting. We include various types of interventions including group, individual, and family support. As a transitional independent living program, we also help our residents work on independent living skills, develop positive peer and community relationships, help them with academic success, and provide exciting recreational activities.
Journey Home East helps provide the opportunity for greater freedoms and responsibilities entailed in pursuing further education or having a job. Residents are being supported in this process by our skilled staff. Young women have the opportunity to develop a new sense of independence, confidence, and sharpen functional living skills that will help them to lead happy, healthy, and successful lives. We can help your family today!
Contact us at 855-290-9684.