Deep down, we all know how important it is to take time for ourselves. Like many others, I always plan time in the Summer for vacations and relaxing weekends. The last few summers have been filled with those moments but honestly I’ve found myself exhausted trying to “squeeze” everything in. Earlier this year I promised myself I would be more mindful and set aside more time for myself. Here are my top 5 ways to have a mindful summer without taking a vacation.
Why is mindfulness so important?
Taking just a little bit of time for yourself each day can give your mental and physical state so many benefits. This can be anything from meditation and yoga, to exercise or a relaxing hobby. Anything that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the day and really gives you time to focus on yourself can be beneficial.
Self-care can help to boost your energy, your overall attitude, and your self-esteem. It also ends up affecting your relationships. Family and friends are likely to see the change within your mental and physical state, and take notice. Setting aside time to let go of the stresses of everyday living can also have a positive impact on your physical and emotional health.
Tip 1: Make a Summer Bucket List
Make a list of things you want to do this summer. Have you ever been interested in a particular class or activity? Why not take the time to learn it? Sign up for a class, a seminar, or even an online course that will teach you something you’ve always wanted to know. Not only is it something just for you, but you’ll feel accomplished in the end. You can also add anything from going window shopping, reading a few pages from a new or favorite book or taking a day trip to the beach. Items on your list don’t need to be there for a single reason, other than this particular action or activity brings you joy. The simpler the better, so you remember to do it each day without feeling overwhelmed.
Tip 2: Power Up with Superfoods
Eating healthy foods is the basis of everything you learned about nutrition, right? While we might understand that eating healthier is important, it’s equally imperative that we eat foods we enjoy and that energize us. Superfoods are so rich in nutrients that they can actually help us to ward off illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. The biggest component to Superfoods most people think about when it comes to their health benefits are antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in most Superfoods, as well as healthy fats, fiber, and essential vitamins. Most fruits, including watermelon, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries, and cranberries are considered superfoods due to their antioxidant properties. One of my summer go-to’s is watermelon juice. It’s delicious, perfect for the pool or on the go and so refreshing on super hot days.
P.S. Here’s are a few of my favorite recipes with watermelon.
Tip 3: Unplug and reconnect with yourself
Sometimes it can be so hard to ‘turn off’ our minds. We live in a world where everything is on the move: We work more than ever, are involved in more social activities than ever, etc.
We tend to get so easily distracted by the technology around it, that we use it for a crutch. Finding a short period of time each day where you unplug and clear your mind and relax can be extremely beneficial. One way to do this is through meditation. Meditation is different for everyone, but as long as you clear your head, and focus on things like deep breathing, you’ll be able to benefit from it. Deep breathing techniques have been known to help with a wide variety of different health issues, but reducing stress levels is high on the list. There are plenty of different deep breathing exercises you can take part in.
Tip 4: Get moving with a daily stretch
Honestly, exercise of any kind can be beneficial in reducing your stress levels, but exercising that combines a focus on breathing and stretching, with tapping into your inner-self, like a walk, or yoga moves, may be even better. As little as five minutes of active stretching each day is not only good for your body, but for your mind as well. Try stepping away from your desk at work to do a few stretches, do them first thing in the morning after you get out of bed, to start the day off on the right foot or take do a few minutes of a yoga flow before bed.
Tip 5: Start your Day with a Daily Affirmation
Affirmations are encouraging and uplifting words. I’m made it a practice to start my day reading and repeating a daily affirmation or mantra. Then, I close my eyes and visualize how I want my day to go. I see it, smell it, taste it, touch it, etc. Doing this make the affirmation more real, and helps me to feel relaxed and calm even when I have a big work presentation or need to address a conflict with someone. Other times, mid-day or before bed, it helps to journal about an experience. Writing it down can help shift the thoughts and make thing much clear. Taking time a few minutes each day a day to ‘drift off’ somewhere can truly impact the stress levels of your entire day.
There are practically hundreds of ways to practice mindfulness and put self-care into practice on a daily basis. The best part is that most of them can be modified to fit your needs and time.
As long as you’re putting yourself and your health first, there is no wrong way to practice mindfulness this summer.
All photos by Vett Vandiver.