Summer evokes a different vision for everyone. My mind immediately travels to days on the water at Lake Tahoe, sweaty/dirty backpacking trips in Washington's national forests, sunset picnics with a bottle of Rose at Greenlake and days last until 10 pm. It's my absolute favorite time of the year and the season I am perpetually waiting for. But one of the challenges I face during summer is staying present. Summer weekends are booked out in spring so as soon as the weather get's nice, it's go, go, go.
The former years of non-stop action have demonstrated the importance of prioritizing intentional downtime, and scheduling less to move through the season slower. Below I've outlined a few self-care ideas that focus on doing less, nourishing the body with rest and spending as much time outdoors as possible.
Self-Care for the Mind
Avoid over-scheduling: This one is tough because everything in summer - backpacking, camping, sailing, road trips - sounds really fun! I tend to say “yes” to too many events and then feel overwhelmed with back to back engagements an no time to recenter. One way to avoid over-scheduling is to print out a calendar for the summer months and pencil in all the events you've planned or RSVP'ed to. (*I prefer print over digital so I can see everything at once without having to click into each date).
Unleash your inner kid: Let go of the put together, responsible adult exterior and have some fun. PLAY, be spontaneous, let loose, make-believe, built a fort, dance, encourage creativity, and let yourself dream.
3. Get lost in summer adventure reads: Hopefully you have a vacation, or at least a few more hours in the day to relax with a good book in your hands. If you live in Seattle, I suggest starting at your public library and seeking out "peak picks".These are best-selling and in-demand books that are immediately available for checkout at all locations. A thrift store is also a great place to source cheap books and you're being environmentally responsible! Win-win.
Self-Care for the Body
1. Soak Up the Sun: Vitamin D is an essential nutrient we obtain from sun exposure that helps our bodies absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Sunlight also helps promote the production of serotonin, that feel-good mood chemical in your brain. Which is why days at the beach feel oh so goooood. Unless you burn your skin. So don't forget to protect yourself with sunscreen.
2. Take a Siesta: Head to the park, hang up a hammock and get some shut-eye. A quick 20-25 minute power nap can be a game changer! An afternoon nap can help reenergize you, and make you more alert and efficient. Next afternoon you feel a lull in energy, reach for a pillow instead of the caffeine and see how you feel.
Self-Care for the Soul
1.) Take Your Vacation: An article published on Forbes last year reported that only 23% of American employees take their time off. And even when people utilize their vacation, over half report still working while away from the office. There is a lot of fear and guilt around taking time off, but taking a break (a real break) benefits you and your employer. Vacations relieve stress, prevent burnout and typically make you more productive upon return.
2.) Go Stargazing: Nothing quiet reminds you how big the universe is like lying in the dark and gazing at the stars. Research the moon phases before hand, and head out on a new moon night for the best visibility.
3.) Dine alfresco: Go outside, shed your shoes and enjoy a meal with friends in your backyard or at the park. Here are a few snack ideas to bring to a gathering.