“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time.” – John Lubbock
I must confess I enjoy summer more than all other seasons. It isn’t just fond memories of long summer vacation and no homework or school to deal with, although that certainly influenced my preference. I remember fondly the family trips we took during summer and often reflect those were the best days of all. While being a kid meant I didn’t have a lot of responsibility — other than help with the dishes and clearing the table — I didn’t have any of the adult stresses either.
Through the years growing to adulthood, having kids of my own, working, going to school at night to get several degrees, and carving out time for a social life, I always looked forward most to summer. Even today, with the fast pace of society and the many distractions, concerns and stresses all around, I find certain activities during summer to be the most effective ways to boost my well-being.
Digging in the Garden
Some of my friends detest working in the garden. Not me. I find great enjoyment yanking weeds, planting a newly-discovered perennial, cutting flowers for a tabletop bouquet, clearing space for additional shrubs, annuals, maybe an ornamental tree, potted plants, fruits and vegetables. It’s therapeutic in that I don’t think about anything other than what I’m doing. There’s good exercise in doing the raking, pruning, cultivating, planting and other gardening tasks. Walking back and forth from front yard to back, from shed to gazebo to inside the house for a refreshment or snack helps me get my steps in and boost oxygen intake. This increases endorphins and banishes any bad mood, anxiety, depression or stress I may have been feeling. The end result of my labors is reward itself. Frankly, I believe every home deserves a well-maintained garden and I’m proud that I can contribute to such a peaceful oasis.
Going on a Well-Deserved Vacation
My all-time favorite summertime activity is going on vacation. While I’ve travelled at other times of the year that qualified as vacation time, the time away during summer remains at the top of my list. There’s something about knowing that this is when most families in America choose to spend time together, exploring new destinations, revisiting others, deepening family bonds, learning some new skill or embarking on a hobby together that energizes me and strengthens my appreciation of this familiar way to enhance, restore or generate well-being. Yes, some summer vacations had their share of disappointments – didn’t catch any fish, the water was too cold for swimming, had to stay in a less-than-top-tier accommodation, the food wasn’t up to par – they were all adventures shared with those I love and who loved me. What better way to feel good about yourself and life?
Taking A Long Weekend Getaway
Waiting for the appropriate time to carve out 10 days or two weeks for a vacation doesn’t help with an immediate need for rest and recreation, yet arranging for a long weekend getaway certainly does. Not only is a three- or four-day weekend trip easier to schedule, it’s generally quicker to finalize. I’ve found lots of last-minute bargains that both increased the feeling of getting a good deal, but also turned out to be somewhat miraculous in restoring energy levels, making me laugh more, and be more loving and giving to my spouse, children and loved ones. I’ve found that whatever the inspiration – romance, sight-seeing, educational or pure leisure – a quick weekend trip is an easy way to take a break and feel the stress evaporate like fast-moving clouds in the summertime sky.
Spending Time in Nature
I love walking in nature preserves, paths along lakes and creeks, in state or national parks, even city trails. I’m fortunate to live near a mountain conservancy with miles of interlinking trails with good access from multiple points. While I’ve never hiked the length of some of these trails (they go far beyond my endurance level or desire to master), I’m always amazed at how just being in nature helps lift my mood, change my outlook, make me feel more like myself and fills me with energy, excitement and joie de vivre. Going out for a walk is much more enjoyable when my spouse accompanies me, yet I’m always ready to hit the trail solo if my partner is otherwise occupied. Think of this time outdoors as therapy on foot. Best of all, it’s free and available almost anytime – yet best, in my mind, during summer.
Hitting the Road for a Long Drive
I grew up in an automotive family. Everyone worked for a car company in one capacity or another. When I was old enough and had enough skill and experience myself, I went to work for one too. Needless to say, I love cars, largely based on my long career in the automotive field. I’ve owned many different types of cars over the years, and driving remains one of my passions. I’m happiest when I set out on a long drive, no destination hard and fast in mind, just hitting the road and anticipating adventure. Whether I wind up at a seaside restaurant for a leisurely lunch after cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway, head inland to browse various outlet malls, or take in an outdoor concert or sporting event, long daytrips by car are an excellent way to spend time and feel like you’ve gotten away from it all — if just for a little while.