It isn't a picnic, figuring out what to do with kids who are out of school or how to cover your work while you're on vacation. Here are some steps to calm yourself amid the summer chaos.

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Summer is great — warm weather, sunny skies, vacations. Yet there are many stresses that go with the season.

For example, if you have kids, you are faced with finding summer care for younger ones, and perhaps worries about unsupervised teens. If you are taking time off, you have the challenge of covering your work and making sure co-workers and customers get what they need. Then there’s the nice problem of so many fun things to do and not enough time. Serious to minor, these all can cause stress to increase.

There are practical steps to manage your life. And they will help. Yet, having an adaptive perspective that helps roll with the punches underlies all of it. For me, this comes from cultivating a day-to-day sense of presence and gratitude.

Before going any further, take a moment to experience the contribution that noticing your blessings can provide. You can do this wherever you are — no one else will see.

First, take a few deep, calm breaths, feeling the air moving in and out, appreciating the oxygen flooding your cells. Now, think about people in your life you appreciate, picturing their faces and remembering good things about them. Finally, look around you, noticing something beautiful in your environment, no matter how simple. A few more breaths, and you are done.

Use this as a strategy to calm yourself down any time stress starts to mount. It won’t make your problems go away, but it will free up mental and emotional energy that you can direct toward problem solving.

Then think preventively. You can develop more resilience by supporting yourself internally through presence and gratitude. Here are some approaches to try.

During your commute, have a nature moment, looking at the weather or the leaves on the trees. Look carefully, making a point of really noticing what you see. Even if you are in a car or on a bus, this connection with the natural world will refresh you.

Notice other things, too. If you are into architecture or cars, for example, use your time to savor the variation and actively enjoy what the world has to offer.

Give yourself a gratitude binge. How many things that you are grateful for can you list in one minute? If this is difficult, remember that even the smallest things count, like a good cup of coffee or an unexpectedly cheerful encounter. Be silly with it, or challenge yourself to find a reason to be grateful for the less pleasant situations you face.

Build in real nature time. As humans, it’s important to our well-being, and being outside, regardless of your activity, will help keep you grounded.

Let others know you appreciate them. It’s good for you and good for them.

These steps won’t make all the chaos go away. You may still be too busy, juggling too many things. But you will be able to do them with a lighter heart, more energy, and more success.

Submit comments or questions to Liz Reyer at