Parenting

3 Steps to Busting Summer Boredom

“I’m Bored.”

These two seemingly innocuous words can strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned military spouse when uttered only days, or hours, into summer break. Instead of dreading the hot, sticky days or frantically searching Pinterest for something, anything, to pass the time, do something different this year: Infuse adventure into your summer plans!

Adventure is traditionally defined as “exciting or unusual experiences that usually involve risky undertakings and uncertain outcomes.” However, there is more to adventure than just risk and unknown circumstances. Dave Cornthwaite sums up adventure beautifully:

“At the core, adventure is the willingness to commit to an uncertain outcome with an open heart and a willingness to learn and engage,” he says. “It is the ability to take a leap into the unknown with mindfulness and grace. Framed this way, opportunity for adventure presents itself to us everyday.”

Often times it is assumed that adventure is reserved for those climbing Mount Everest or exploring the Amazon. However, as any military spouse can tell you, one need not set out on a foreign expedition to find adventure; daily life is often filled with adventurous moments. When navigating a new duty location even the most seemingly mundane tasks (like grocery shopping or finding a new hair salon) can rapidly become risky undertakings with uncertain outcomes!

Embracing opportunities with uncertain outcomes is the first step in infusing adventure into your summer plans, which is critical to both your mental and physical wellbeing. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure how to live an adventurous life; here are three easy tips to get you started!

1. Get Outside

As cliché as it may sound, adventures happen when you venture outside of your comfort zone and outside of your traditional four walls. When you unplug from the electronic jungle and begin exploring your local forest, something almost magical happens. Science shows that spending time in the Mother Nature’s playground can actually make you healthier. Escaping to the woods, mountains or even your local park helps both your body and your brain. Some of the benefits of getting outside include increased brain function, reduced stress, improved Vitamin D intake and amplified happiness!

Military families have the distinct privilege of being able to adventure in the National Parks for free. As you are planning your adventure (yes, you will need to actually prepare for adventure as you cannot simply sit back and wait for the universe to throw an adventure your way), be sure to choose an adventure that fits your lifestyle and fitness level. If you have little ones, choose a short hike they can conquer and if you are a marathon runner without children, find an overnight hike with breathtaking views.

2. Get Uncomfortable

You will never grow unless you push your comfort zones. Bear Grylls didn’t become a world-famous adventurer by doing only the things he was secure with or by settling into the same comfortable routine each day. Bear Grylls became famous by intentionally pushing the envelope both physically and mentally every single day.

By infusing adventure into your summer plans, you are able to challenge yourself (and your loved ones) to perform at your peak levels, develop new skills and learn how to think creatively. It is important to note that the key word in this challenge is push. You should slowly expand your comfort zone, not throw yourself off a steep embankment and hope for the best. Growth and learning are not possible when the demands of the situation turn off your ability to adapt and turn on your “fight or flight” reaction.

So when you embark on your next outside adventure, be sure to choose an adventure that stretches your level of comfort while still following the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared.”  Plan out your day (while still allowing plenty of time to adventure and explore) and pack all of the plenty of provisions (i.e., snacks…lots and lots of snacks).

It may seem like military spouses already spend a majority of their time being uncomfortable with the seemingly constant PCS/deployment/TDY carousel that shakes up their social infrastructure. But the key here is to get uncomfortable in a different area or arena. Comfortable navigating that first post-PCS play date? Great, then adventure outside of your comfort zone and plan a day of zip-lining! Happy to find the new children’s museum? Awesome, next time set off to find a local geocache site instead!

3. Get Into a Growth Mindset

When you make the decision to infuse adventure into your summer plans, you also set the conditions for your brain to operate in a growth, or learning, mindset. A growth mindset, according to Carol Dweck, is when “people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” A growth mindset sets the conditions for you (and your adventure-mates) to improve self-esteem, creativity and confidence all while decreasing depression, anxiety and perfectionism.

The military experience is one giant adventure, so learning how to activate a growth mindset is absolutely critical for military spouses! Instead of resisting your spouse’s upcoming deployment, choose to think of it as an amazing opportunity for you to grow as an individual. Or, try reframing your upcoming PCS as the chance to travel to new parts of the country/globe.

This doesn’t mean that you have to whitewash (or ignore the negative aspects of) all situations; let’s face it, there are some aspects of military life that just plain stink. Instead, a growth mindset encourages military spouses to focus on the positive aspects and what they can learn from each new adventure!

Although it is not guaranteed that every new adventure will go exactly as planned or teach you the lessons you expected, you can count on the fact that every new adventure will shape who are and how you interact with the world around you! You can be confident that by getting outside, getting uncomfortable and getting into a growth mindset you will not only remove the words “I’m bored” from your vocabulary, but you will make this summer the best yet!

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