Summer days are long, sweaty and can stress you out as you try to keep kids occupied and get the ever-growing list of chores done. OR summer days can be spent indulging your inner kid, trying something new and taking care of yourself. Yes! We asked several therapists and coaches to share their ideas for nurturing ourselves (and having fun) this summer. Here are their self-care suggestions.
1. Plan a vacation or staycation.
“Where you go isn’t as important as taking the time to do something for yourself,” said Natasha Lindor, a coach and founder of The AND Factor, who helps professionals have a successful career while working less and living more.
For instance, take a road trip to a place that’s especially beautiful in the summertime, such as Minneapolis or Chicago, Lindor said. Or enjoy the sights and sounds of your own city. Make a list of activities you’d like to do, such as visit a museum, picnic in the park with loved ones, play Frisbee, people-watch at a café or swing on the swings, she said.
Also, pay attention to the activities your town or city is offering. Many places have “summer festivals with music, food and fun — three things that are good for nurturing the soul.”
2. Take a break from technology.
“[E]verything seems to slow down a little bit in the summer, so it might be a good time to try experimenting with different ways to take a break from the constant motion of the hectic work schedule of the rest of the year,” said Carla Naumburg, Ph.D, a clinical social worker and author of the blog Mindful Parenting on Psych Central.
For instance, she suggested experimenting with not using technology, such as your smart phone, laptop or tablet, an hour or two before bed.
Also, try taking an entire day off from technology either each week or on your summer vacation. “Let your co-workers and family members know ahead of time that you won’t be on email during that time, and give yourself a chance to reconnect with yourself and your loved ones,” Naumburg said.
3. Participate in playful activities.
What did you enjoy doing in the summer as a kid? Was it riding bikes ‘til dark? Visiting waterparks? Running through the sprinklers? Buying bomb pops from an ice cream truck? Eating BBQ in the backyard? Whatever it is, connect to your inner child and go do it at least once a week.
4. Savor seasonal fresh foods.
In the summertime, many delicious fruits and vegetables are in season. Farmer’s markets are great places to experiment with seasonal produce and learn new ways of preparing them. Check out this definitive guide to Houston’s best farmer’s markets.
5. Spend more time outside.
Get up earlier, do something out of your comfort zone, pick an outdoor activity that truly brings you joy and feels good. We have written before about the joy of forest bathing.
Shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses, bridging the gap between us, encapsulated in our metal cars, brick homes and concrete buildings, and the natural world. This is a crucial preventative medicine technique as according to a recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends 93% of their time indoors.
According to an organization that studies forest bathing, the scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:
- Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells.
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
- Increased energy level
Now get out there are enjoy summer like a kid! You deserve it.