The summertime is all about slowing down, kicking back and unwinding. It’s the season for barbecues, sand between your toes, boat rides, plunges into the pool and other relaxing and rejuvenating adventures.
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.1 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. Focus on effective tasks.
When you are working, particularly if you’re a business owner, engage in projects that will provide the biggest benefits. That’s what Jodi Flynn, a coach who helps small business owners keep their business from taking over their personal lives, suggests to her clients.
“What I recommend to my clients is that they do take some extra downtime during the summer — because once it’s gone, it’s gone — and we identify the activities that will give them the biggest bang for their buck, so to speak, during the hours they are in the office.”
This could be anything from continuing to market your business (especially because few businesses market during the summer) to training employees to having lunch with your biggest clients, she said.
4. Participate in playful activities.
Lindor suggested thinking about the summertime activities you loved as a child. Was it riding bikes ‘til dark? Visiting waterparks? Running through the sprinklers? Eating BBQ in the backyard? “Whatever it is, connect to your inner child and go do it.”
5. Spend time near water.
“The sound of moving water is soothing to the soul and helps bring clarity,” Flynn said. Depending on where you live, this could be anything from a stream to the ocean, she said. Or it could be swimming in your own pool, a friend’s pool or a local community pool, Lindor said.
6. Savor fresh foods.
In the summertime, many delicious fruits and vegetables are in season. “Challenge yourself to try a new fruit or veggie every week,” Lindor said. “[I]f you have a local farmers market nearby, … you can develop a relationship with the farmers, learn about where your food comes from and get exposed to new variations of basic fruits and veggies like purple carrots.”
7. Wake up earlier.
Getting up just 30 minutes earlier than you normally do can be rejuvenating. This gives you some quiet time to meditate, savor your cup of coffee, enjoy a short walk or “read something that nourishes you (not your email!),” Naumburg said.
8. Go for a walk.
“Walking reduces stress and is attributed to causing moments of inspiration,” Flynn said. It’s especially beneficial to take a stroll in natural surroundings. Just leave your iPod at home, she added.
9. Spend time outside.
Pick an outdoor activity that truly brings you joy (and doesn’t feel like a “chore or obligation”), Naumburg said. This could include gardening, hiking, biking or swimming, she said. Other ideas include golfing, berry picking and exercising outside, Flynn said. (“There are gyms and yoga studios that offer outdoor classes.”)
10. Do something out of your comfort zone.
“Sometimes the best way to nurture yourself is to do something outside of your comfort zone,” Lindor said. For instance, “join a summer league where you don’t know anyone; bring in watermelon or another summer treat to the office; run a race; try a new sport; experience the great outdoors in a new way like hiking, camping, backyard [or] rooftop camping or fishing.”
This summer consider the activities that will nurture your many needs, and help you enjoy yourself!